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THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 




THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 

An Introduction to the Study of 
Contemporary Expansionid Policy of 
Japan, Italy and Germany. 




By 


MAHMUD HUSAIN, Ph. D. 


Reader in Modern History, University of Dacca, 


DACCA 


1937 



All rights reserved. 
First Edition, January, 1937 


Printed in India by TrailoJeyn Chandra 8ur at the Asutosh Piet^e^ 
and 

Published by the Author, 2he University, Uaccot 



CONTENTS 


Page 

Preface ... . . 7 

Introduction ... ... 9 

Chapter I. The Expansion of Japan ... 17 

Chapter II. The Expansion of Italy ... 93 

Chapter III. The Expansion of Germany ... 171 

.Appendices ... ... ... 239 

MAPS 

1. Japan and China ... facing 65 

II. Italy in Africa ... ,, I45 

III. The Former Colonies of Germany „ 192 

IV. Central and Eastern Europe „ 208 



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PREFACE 


Whoso writes the history of his own time must 
expect to be attached for everything he has said, and 
for everything he has not said : but those little draw- 
backs should not discourage a man who loves truth 
and liberty, expects nothing, fears nothing, asks 
nothing, and limits his ambition to the cultivation 
of letters — Voltaire 

The publication of this book, in spite of its many 
shortcomings, perhaps does not require an apology* 
Japan^s rapid advance on the mainland of Asia, 
Italy^s conquest of Abyssinia and Nazi Germany's 
ambitions not only to expand towards the east 
but to find a place in the colonial sun are striking 
manifestations of expansionist activity. It is hoped 
that a work in which an attempt has been made 
to explain the imperialist policies of these countries 
may prove to be of some use to the reader and may 
help him to understand an important aspect of the 
complicated international relations of the present 
time. 

There are certain paragraphs in the book which 
occur in my articles published in the Calcutta Ttevieio 
and the Modern Review : I have refrained from 
disturbing them, because, in the words of a famous 


r 



PREFACE 


historian, “where it happens that the same thing 
has to be said at the same length, it is an afiectation 
to vary the words/^ 

From among the numerous books and journals 
in English and German which I have consulted, 
I should like to make particular and grateful mention 
of Toynbee's Survey of Itiiernational Affaiis, 
Wheeler-Bennett^s Documents on Intern ational 
Affairs and the publications of the League of Nations 
and the German Colonial Society. 

My thanks arc due to a small group of friends 
who have encouraged and helped me in the 
preparation of this work, particularly to 
Professor M. Hasan, Professor H. L. Dey and Dr, 
W. H. A. Shadani. 


Dacca, January, 1937. Mahmud Husain 


8 



INTRODUCTION 


For some time past it has been the fashion to 
divide the industrially advanced nations of the world 
into two categories, the Haves and the Have-nots, 
Great Britain, France, U.S.A., Russia and certain 
smaller countries such as Belgium, Holland and 
Portugal are supposed to be satiated Powers, because 
they either possess extensive empires, or like the 
U.S.A. and Russia, are themselves very large and 
rich. To the category of the Haie-Vfots belong, above 
all, Japan, Italy and Germany.^ Although the desire 
for colonial expansion is not peculiar to these 
countries, it is particularly strong among them. 

There is much that is common to the history of 
these countries ; and there are many points of 
resemblance in the situation in which they find 
themselves to-day. When these countries became 
industrialized and strong, they found that other 
nations had stolen a march over them and had 
divided among themselves all the prized territories 
of the world. All the three countries joined the 
World War, though not on the same side, principally 
for the sake of territorial expansion. Germany was 

I For their area and population see Appendices 
1 and II. 


9 



INTRODUCTION 


defeated, and, instead of obtaining new possessions, 
she lost all that she had acquired in difficult circum- 
stances. Italy and Japan belonged to the camp of 
victors, but even their expectations were not fulfilled 
and they felt that they had been ‘betrayed’ at 
Versailles. To-day Japan, Italy and Germany 
are confronted with the same problems. There is 
the same ‘population pressure’ and there are similar 
economic needs. Moreover, all the three countries 
are motivated by the same autocratic and militaristic 
ideas. 

There are two often-repeated explanations of the 
tendency to expansion in industrial States displayed 
so strikingly at the present time in Japan, Italy and 
Germany. One explanation is given by the 
‘Gcopoliticians’, the other by the ‘Historical Mate- 
rialists’. The essence of the theory of ‘geopolitics’, 
propounded by Ratzcl, Kjcllen and Haushofer, w 
that certain geographical factors such as climate, 
size, position and soil of a country determine its 
politics. According to this theory it is only natural 
that Japan, Italy and Germany should follow a 
policy of territorial expansion.' The geopoliticians 
agree with Mussolini that for these countries, “the 

1. I'lie famous German periodical Zeitsvhrift fur 
Geopolitik', edited by Professor Haushofer, is the mouth- 
piece of t'le geopolitu ians. The English historian Buckle 
is to geopoliticians what Marx is to historical materialists. 


10 



INTRODUCTION 


choice is between foreign expansion and domestic 
exp]osion^^ 

The Historical Materialists, led by Lenin, Trotsky 
and the greatest of Bolshevist theorists, Bukharin, 
denounce the writings of Kjellen and others as 
“childish prattle, and assert that Imperialism is the 
last and inevitable stage in the development of 
capitalism. The latest stage of the system of 
capitalistic economy is that in which surplus capital 
seeks new fields for investment in foreign countries 
because of the ever-diminishing returns at home. 
These writers denounce imperialism, but to them 
it is an evil which cannot be avoided under the 
capitalist system. 

Both these theories seem to be one-sided. 
Although it cannot be denied that geographical 
factors exercise a profound influence on politics, yet 
they cannot explain all political movements. The 
insular position of Great Britain may explain many 
but not all aspects of British national life. Similarly^ 
imperialism has sometimes nothing to do with 
capitalism. In fact imperialism is decidedly older 
than capitalism. Even to-day we notice that the 
export of surplus capital is not always directly 
connected with the acquisition of colonies. Italy, 
for example, has no capital to invest in Abyssinia ; 

1. Bukharin in Foreign Jffutts, vol. 14, no. 4. 


11 



INTRODUCTION 


and the capital which flows from highly industrialized 
countries does not necessarily flow to their own 
colonies. 

There are certain other economic arguments in 
favour of expansion which are so often heard in 
Japan, Italy and G rmany and are considered as so 
many justifications for the line along which they 
are moving. 

Colonies are considered as outlets for the surpuls 
population of the densely populated countries. It is 
also said that imperial possessions ensure access to 
essential raw materials and foodstuffs, and they 
serve as markets for the industrial output of the 
mother country. Moreover, for certain classes 
of people in the mother country, expansion 
means new opportunities to govern and to 
secure a large number of well-paid administrative 
posts. 

The idea of the economic utility of colonies has 
been questioned by many writers in those countries 
which are fortunate in possessing large empires, 
particularly in Great Britain. The English publicists 
argue, with the help of statistics, that the colonies 
do not pay. Trade, they assert, no longer follows 
the flag, and colonial possessions do not always have 
a direct bearing on the population problem, 
Similarly, industrial States possessing large empires 


12 



INTRODUCTION 


do not got all the raw materials and foodstuflfs from 
their own possessions. ' 

It cannot be denied that there is some truth in 
those criticisms of the economic justification for 
expansion. Colonics, however, are not quite so 
worthless as they are depicted to be. Otherwise, 
why should the Hares object to a redistribution of 
the colonial world. The claims of the Hate-nots 
could be at once amicably settled if the colonies, 
instead of being assets, were so many encumbrances. 
But at the same time we should not forget that 
“nations cannot solely live on economic considera- 
tions^\ Many non-economic factors influence their 
policies. 

Colonies, for instance, are coveted by States 
because they can supply them with man power, a 
lesson which European countries learnt particularly 
during the World War. How can France with a 
population of 40 millions be a match for Germany 
with its H5 million people, without the help of her 
colonial troops ? Strategic and political considera- 
tions often compel States to extend their dominion 
to territories which are otherwise of no value. 

I The Ec<momist, October 26. find November 16, 1935. 
Many American writers hold the same views. See Moon, 
Imiferialism and World Pclitics, Schumann, International 
Politics^ and Langer, Critique of I mpetialism in Foreign 
Affair 5 ^ vol. 14, no. i. 


13 


INTRODUCTION 


It is natural that the history of a nation should 
also influence its policy. The Fascists of Italy have 
been greatly influenced by the Roman tradition ; 
and the conquest of Abyssinia was also due among 
other things to the bitter memory of the defeat of 
Adowa (1896). AVhen Hitler speaks of Germany's 
urgent need for colonies, he particularly emphasizes 
that “tlie moral stigma of deprivation of colonies 
■must be removed^^ 

Independent nations very often have the ambition 
to become World Powers. Some of them would 
risk their all for this greatness. “Germany^^, pro- 
claims Hitler, “must either become a World Power 
or cease completely to exist'\ The possession of 
colonies is considered to be an essential attribute 
of greatness. It is true that there are Powers with 
vast colonial domains, Belgium for instance, which 
do not belong to the category of Great Powers, 
and there are others such as Russia which are 
considered great even though they do not possess 
colonial empires ; but for most people the great- 
ness of a country and territorial expansion go 
together. 

Patriotism and national pride demand a place 
in the sun, irrespective of its political and economic 
advantages. “Many a man^^ says Norman Thomas, 
"without six feet of earth in which to be buried 


14 



lOTEODUClTON 


is swollen with pride because his country owns^ 
an empire/^ ^ 

As a rule autocratic form of government with 
its heroic conception of life and its armaments and 
eulogy of war also helps in creating in the minds 
of the people the desire to expand. In those 
countries which arc governed autocratically, one 
hears not infrequently of their riglit^ to subjugate 
other nations 

When governments find themselves confronted 
with serious economic and social problems, they often 
turn to expansion. i\ggressive im[)eriali.st policy 
4ias proved on many an occasion the surest method 
of distracting the people^s minds from domestic ills. 

Further, it cannot be denied that many nations 
honestly believe in their civilizing mission. It 
may be that when politicians talk of their duty 
to confer the benefits of civilization on primitive 
and backward countries, they do not always mean 
what they say. In fact they often remind us of 
the saying that “man was given a tongue to hide 
his thoughts^^ When Mussolini asserted that the 
object of the Italian annexation of Abyssinia was 
the abolition of slavery, no one believed him. But 
it is difficult to imagine whole nations consisting of 
hypocrites only. When an average citizen of 

1. The ChaUenge of War* 

15 


INTRODUCTION 


Great Britain or France speaks of the “white man's 
burden'' and of the good that his country's rule 
has done to the Negroes of Africa, he is undoubtedly 
sincere. 

Finally, the contention, though somewhat ex- 
aggerrated, is not altogether false that there are 
occasions when States conquer other territories, 
not because of their economic value and other 
advantages but merely for the sake of conquest. 
Here imperialism becomes an end in itself. 

In the pages that follow an attempt has been 
made to describe the present Quest for Empire 
somewhat in detail from the points of view men- 
tioned above. 


2. Joseph Schumpeter, Zur Soziologie der Impetialtsmen, 

16 




CHAPTER I 


THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 




A review of the so-called “continental’' 
policy of Japan, by which is meant the 
expansion of the country on the mainland, 
should naturally begin with the consi- 
deration of certain important facts 
regarding the Japanese situation. We 
should examine permanent factors as well 
as recent happenings which determine 
present Japanese policy. Perhaps the 
most important problem of Japan is the 
economic problem ; Japan sutlers, parti- 
cularly, from over-population, and short- 
age of raw materials, minerals and food 
stuffs. 

To-day the population of Japan proper 
— excluding the imperial possessions, 
Korea, Formosa and Manchukuo — is esti- 
mated to be about 70 million. In this 
connection it may be of interest to know 
that less than a century ago the popula- 
tion of Japan was just over 25 million. 
From the middle of the eighteenth to the 


19 



THE QUEST FOR EMPHIE 


middle of the nineteenth century the 
population remained on a uniform level. 
It remained almost stationary in spite of 
the efforts of the state to increase it for 
political reasons, and in spite of the 
exhortations of the Church. The Church 
asked people to leave more children to 
pray for the souls of their parents !’ But 
there were too many famines and 
epidemics during this period which 
prevented an increase in the population. 
With the modernization of Japan during 
the second half of the nineteenth century, 
however, its population began to increase 
by the proverbial leaps and bounds. It 
was 26 million in 1846, 36 million in 1882, 
46 million in 1903, 69 million in 1925, 
and at present it is estimated to be about 
70 million. This extraordinary increase 
in population was the natural outcome 
of the transformation of mediaeval 
Japan into a modern industrial state. 
For many years the increase was most 

I. Nitobe, Japan, p, 266, 


20 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


welcome, as new Japan was in need of 
urban workers. It was the “optimum 
population” that was growing. But 
ultimately there came a stage when the 
increasing numbers could not be absorb- 
ed by the industries. Now the growth 
ought to have stopped. But unfortunately 
for China and perhaps for many other 
countries — who knows ? — the Japanese 
continued to increase at what has been 
aptly called an “Oriental” birth rate of 
32.92/1000, whereas, because of their 
advanced position in the world of science, 
they had now a “European” death rate 
of 17.72/1000,' The annual increase in 
the population of Japan is about 900,000 
on average.’ In point of density of 
population, Japan stands fifth in the 
world, as the density in Belgium, 
Holland, Germany and England is 
greater than in Japan, while in Italy it 


1. Foreign Affairs ^ vol. 13, no. 2. 

2. Japanese Trade and Industry by Mitsubishi 
Economic Research Bureau (1936), p. 57. 


21 



THE QTJEST FOE EMPIRE 


is about equal. But if in calculating^ 
the density only the cultivated area is 
taken into consideration, it will be found 
that, in comparison with other highly 
industrialised and extremely thickly 
populated countries, the Japanese ratio 
is exceptionally high. According to this 
calculation the density per kilometer 
would be 661 in Belgium, 865 in England, 
308 in Italy and 1,156 in Japan.' 

This huge Japanese population is to 
be supported by a country which is not 
only small in size — the total area of 
Japan proper being 147,611 sq. miles’ — 
but which is very poor in natural 
resources. Japan proper is mainly moun- 
tainous, the cultivated territory being 
only 167o of the total area. Japan has to 
import not only all the important mine- 
rals and raw materials for her industries— 
iron, coal and cotton, for instance — but 
also a certain percentage of food stuffs. 

1. Japanese Trade and Industry ^ p. 56. 

2. Statesman' s Year Book (1936), p. 1073. 


22 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


Japan is a great industrial country. But, 
curiously, before the conquest of Man- 
churia she lacked all the requirements of 
modern industrial development. 

A glance at the following table will 
show how dependent Japan has been on 
the imports of raw materials and food 
stuffs from foreign countries : — 

Imports of Raw Materials and Food 
Stuffs in 1929, (in 1,000 Yen).' 

Raw Materials 


Raw materials for 
the textile industry 
including cotton 
and wool... 710,090 
Ores & metals 

269,731 

Crude & heavy 
oils ... 46,603 

Crude rubber 33,886 
Coal ••• 42,979 

Oil cake 76,919 


Wood and 


timber 88,838 
Fodder 24,646 

Oil yielding mate- 


rials 

30,778 

Phosphorite 

13,455 

Sulphate of 

ammonia 

48,086 

Pulp 

13,486 

Hides and 

leather 

20,103 


(l) Japanese Trade and Industry, Part VI, Ch. XXX. 

23 



THE QTJEST FOB EMPIRE 


Food Stuffs 


Beans and 

peas 78,746 

Wheat 70,896 

Salt 4,416 


Sugar 31,160 

Indian corn 3,672 
Meat 7,878 


No doubt other great industrial coun- 
tries, such as Great Britain, Holland and 
Belgium have also to import raw 
materials from outside but, then, they 
possess vast empires from where to 
import ; and for their surplus populations 
there is ample room for expansion 
within their own imperial territories. 
But Japan’s imperial possessions before 
the conquest of Manchuria were insigni- 
ficant in comparison with those of the 
great colonial nations of the West. 
Even Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy, 
and Spain, not to speak of Great 
Britain and France, possessed greater 
Empires than did Japan. While the 
colonial Empire of Belgium was eighty 
times as large as the mother country, 


24 



THE EXPANSION OP JAPAN 


and of Great Britain over one hundred 
times, Japanese possessions were not 
even as large as Japan proper, the ratio 
of the mother country to the dependen- 
cies being 1. 2 to 1. 0. 

What could be the possible solutions 
of the Japanese economic problem ? On 
examination it seems there are five 
remedies, if the policy of inaction be not 
regarded as one. Such a policy we may 
at once dismiss as wholly inapplicable to 
a nation which believes in human efiort 
and which can never accept the fatalistic 
idea which is completely foreign to its 
mind. Modern Japan, so powerful, so 
advanced in science and so ambitious, 
cannot be expected to adopt this policy 
in face of a real danger to the already low 
standard of living of her people, if not to 
their very existence. The problem has 
to be faced and a solution has to be 
found. As pointed out before, there are 
several possible solutions. To begin 
with there is the policy of restriction of 


25 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


population by means of birth control. 
Then comes the policy of pure colonisa- 
tion or emigration ; or the Japanese may 
concentrate on the improvement of agri- 
culture and expansion of trade. Japan 
even without a colonial empire may 
perhaps feed a much larger population 
than she has at present, and maintain a 
decent standard of living provided she 
is able to increase the food supplies by 
improvements in the methods of agricul- 
ture and extension of cultivated areas, 
and provided she is in a position to 
expand her industries and trade. Lastly, 
there is the policy of empire-building. 


1. Restriction of Population 

In the present age of Planned Econo- 
my it should not be impossible to restrict 
the population of a country. No wonder 
birth control is occasionally suggested as 
a remedy for the Japanese problem. It 
is, however, not a solution of the imme- 


26 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


diate difficulties. It may have its effect 
only in the distant future. If resort is 
had to birth control on a nation-wide 
scale — a problem by itself — the problem 
of over-population may become less acute 
in future, but this remedy will be of little 
help to the people of today. Besides 
practical considerations there are moral 
and political objections which make the 
task of the champion of this system in 
Japan extremely difficult. When publi- 
cists of other countries suggest birth 
control to the Japanese, the5^ suspect 
their motive and consider it as a “foreign 
plot to undermine Japan’s prestige.”* 
Religion in Japan, as elsewhere, is very 
hostile towards its adoption, though for 
reasons different from those advanced by 
other religions. The most effective 
argument, however, against birth control 
is its ineffectiveness. 


I. Foreign Affairs, vol. 13, no. 2. 


27 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


2. Emigration 

Past experience shows that the 
Japanese are not good colonizers. Asa 
rule they do not like to leave their 
country even when other countries ofter 
great opportunities. The result is that 
even Japanese possessions, not to speak 
of other countries, have not been able to 
attract many people from Japan, After 
several decades of Japanese rule, only 
2.6 per cent of the people of Korea 
and 6 per cent of Formosa are members 
of the ruling nation. However paradoxi- 
cal it may sound, it is a fact, as has been 
pointed out by a writer, that the number 
of Koreans who have made Japan their 
home since 1910 exceeds the number of 
the Japanese who have emigrated to 
Korea during the same period.' 

It is not easy to overcome the 
natural reluctance of the Japanese 
people to leave their fatherland, but 

I. Foreign Affairs, vol. 13, no. 2. 


28 




THE EXPANSION OP JAPAN 


there are other even more serious 
difficulties. Had the Japanese been free 
to emigrate in large numbers to Siberia, 
China, America, the British dominions 
or the Dutch East Indies, the policy of 
Japan would have been perhaps very 
different from what it is to-day. But 
that is not possible. 

The Siberian climate, even if there 
was no other hindrance, practically 
prohibits any Japanese settlement in 
the region. Nature has debarred the 
Japanese from this territory. As 
regards China, apart from the fact that 
it is on the whole an already over- 
populated country, low-paid Chinese 
labour makes Japanese immigration 
economically fruitless. The Japanese, 
despite their own low wage standard, 
cannot compete with Chinese workers 
in the labour market. In fact, partly 
due to this reason Japanese emigration 
to Korea has been negligible. And the 
standard of living of the Chinese is 


29 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


certainly not improving, if not actually 
deteriorating. 

Another territory for emigration is 
South America, specially Brazil, Here 
the Japanese in the past were welcomed 
for various reasons but mainly because 
of their low wage standard. For the 
last few years, however, the quota 
admissible into South America has been 
strictly limited and in Brazil, particularly 
since the passing of constitutional 
amendment in May 1934, the door is 
practically closed. 

As regards the United States, when 
Japan came into contact with them, 
their policy was to encourage immigra- 
tion. Many people from Japan went over 
to the U.S.A. during the last three 
decades of the nineteenth century. But 
in the course of time, as their population 
grew, there arose a serious friction 
between the two countries over this 
very question. Ultimately in 1907 a 
■'‘Gentlemen’s Agreement” was concluded. 


30 



THE EXPANSION OP JAPAN 


Japan voluntarily undertook to restrict 
the migration of Japanese labourers. 
Since then Japanese emigration to the 
States had been small, but since 1924 
when the Exclusion Act was passed, and 
when the U.S.A. adopted a “racial Monroe 
Doctrine” it has been wholly stopped'. 

The Dutch Indies and Philippines 
are similarly closed to the Japanese. 

Last of all there are the British 
dominions, specially Australia with the 
adjoining islands. For many reasons 
Australia is most suitable for Japanese 
colonization. Australia has much 
undeveloped territory and considerable 
mineral wealth. But the population of 
this continent in proportion to its size 
and natural wealth is very small indeed. 
Australia with eleven times as large a 
territofy as that of the whole Japanese 
Empire, excluding Manchukuo, has less 


I. Tsurumi in his Present Day Japan describes how 
deeply this Act has wounded the feelings of the Japanese 
people. 


31 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


than l/14th of its population*. And 
even this small population is concentrated 
almost wholly in half a dozen cities. 
If we take Northern Australia alone — a 
territory in which Japan should be 
specially interested because of its 
nearness and the virgin state of its soil — 
we find that it is a territory almost 
without a people. The population of 
the whole of Northern Australia does not 
exceed a few thousand souls. But 
in spite of this “boundless emptiness”, 
in spite of the fact that Australia has 
“more trees than men,” she has closed 
her doors to all coloured peoples. “It is 
a great pity”, truly observes a Japanese 
writer, “that artificial laws of other 
nations are standing between Japan 
and her natural expansion abroad”.* 
New Zealand, the Dutch East Indies and 
Canada have similarly closed their doors 
to Japanese immigration. 

1. Statesman' s Year Book (1936). 

2. Quoted by Etherton, The Pacific : A Forecast p. 86. 


32 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 

This brief review of Japan’s chances 
of emigration shows clearly that to-day, 
due partly to Japanese temperament, 
but largely to the policy of the countries 
concerned, emigration cannot be consi- 
dered as a solution of the Japanese 
population problem. Japan, therefore, 
must find out some other remedy. 

8. Extension and Improvement of Agriculture 
The possibilities of improving the 
technique of agriculture and of extending 
arable land have been examined by 
competent men. As regards the extension 
of cultivated areas it has been pointed 
out that in Japan proper during the 
last fifty years an area corresponding 
to about 367o of the previously cultiva- 
ted land has been converted into arable 
land, as shown in the following Table' : — 

Rate of 



1880 

1934 

increase. 

Paddy fields 

... 2,599 

3,192 

2.Z% 

Upland farms 

... 1,835 

2,796 

52% 

Total 

... 4,434 

5,988 

36% 


I. Japanese Trade and Industry, Ch. XI. 


3 


33 



THE QUEStIfOR EMPIRE 


During the last half century much of 
the waste land has been with great 
difficulty converted into arable land. 
There is now little prospect of increasing 
agricultural production in this manner, 
as all land that was at all suitable for 
cultivation is now being cultivated. 

As regards the improvement of 
agricultural methods it has been suggest- 
ed that there are possibilities in this 
direction. 

If advanced and more scientific 
methods are employed, perhaps a 20 per 
cent, increase in agricultural output 
may be efiected. Japan has in fact 
already taken up this work seriously. But 
even if she succeeds in increasing the 
agricultural returns by 20 per cent, it 
would not suffice for the rapid increase in 
the population. It has been estimated 
that by improvement and extension 
Japan can at best add the equivalent of 
75,000 acres yearly to total agricultural 
production. “This is inadequate, however, 


34 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


not merely because the maximum yield 
per acre is being rapidly approached, but 
because 142^000 acres must be added 
each year to meet the rice requirements 
alone of the annual increase in popu- 
lation’’.' 

4. Expansion of Trade 

Another alternative for Japan is to 
concentrate attention on the develop- 
ment of industries and expansion of trade 
in countries in no way politically 
dependent upon her. 

In this connection if we look at the 
most important industrial and commer- 
cial nations of the world, we notice that 
some of them — Great Britain, France, 
Holland and Belgium — possess extensive 
empires. There are others — U.S.A. and 
U.S.S.R. — which are themselves large 
geographical units and for their prospe- 
rity they are not so much dependent 
upon foreign markets and sources of 


I. Hindmarch in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 266. 

35 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


supply for raw materials. But, leaving 
aside Germany and Italy, which are after 
building up empires, there are other 
industrial countries which neither possess 
colonial empires, nor do they consist of 
large areas, yet are found in a flourishing 
condition, Norway and Sweden are 
cited as typical examples of such coun- 
tries. The secret of their prosperity, it 
is said, lies in their own eificiency and 
in their complete detachment from the 
dissensions of the world. They honestly 
follow a policy of peace. It is no 
exaggeration to say that, thanks to the 
flourishing state of their industries and 
commerce, they are economically better 
ofi than many of the imperialist nations. 
Why should not Japan adopt the same 
policy ? 

The answer to this question is that 
Japan — 'whether by its own free choice 
or not is immaterial — has already given 
this policy a trial. From 1922 to 1931 
when Japan was being governed by 


36 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


liberal statesmen and when the merchant 
class was in control of government, she 
consistently followed a policy of “com- 
mercial expansion” and “political good 
neighbourliness”.' During this period 
Japan tried to be on friendly terms with 
China, not always an easy task. She 
showed great self-restraint in face of the 
unprovoked and not deserved Exclusion 
Act of 1924 passed by the U.S.A. She 
allowed the Anglo- Japanese Alliance to 
lapse. In many other ways Japan 
“gave impressive evidence of her will to 
peace”*. During these years her supreme 
aim seems to have been the further 
development of her industries and the 
expansion of trade, in order to provide 
means of livelihood for her growing 
population. The most prominent states- 
men of Japan gave their blessings to this 
policy. And it must be admitted that 
for a few years, until about 1925, the 

1. Survey of International Affairs 1931, p. 400. 

2. ihid. 


37 




THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


policy was successful. But in 1926, that 
is to say even before the World Depres- 
sion set in, Japanese international trade 
began to slacken, and in every successive 
year the condition turned from bad to 
worse. The reasons for the decline were 
two : protective policy of other nations 
and the attacks of Chinese nationalism, 
which though directed against the 
interested powers in general, specially 
hit Japan, and took the form of boycott. 
Then came the world Economic Depres- 
sion, the last straw on the camel’s back, 
and the consequent social uneasiness. 
The following table explains why the 
policy of peaceful economic penetration 
became discredited in Japan and was 
abandoned in 1931. The years 1933 and 
1934 did show a great increase in 
Japanese Export Trade. This was, 
however, due to the fall in the value of 
the Yen and therefore it is somewhat 
misleading. It must also be pointed out 
that the increase led to further drastic 


38 



TFTK EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


restrictions on Japanese goods in most 
countries of the world. Today there is 
hardly any country that has not imposed 
fresh ‘dumping’ duties on Japanese 
goods. 

JAPANESE INTERNATIONAL TRADE'- 
(In millions of Yen) 

Year. 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 

Imports. 1943 2407 2487 2305 2099 2133 2169 1507 1206 

Exports. 1409 1761 2220 1972 1912 1909 2100 1430 Iii 5 

5. Empire-Building 

We have discussed the possible 
methods of the solution of the Japanese 
problem. They have been complete 
failures in the eyes of the Japanese 
people. The only method that remains 
for the Japanese is to acquire political 
and economic control of foreign terri- 
tories. These territories should be such 

I. League of Nations Memoranda on International 
Trade quoted in the Survey of International Affairs, 193 * i 
p. 402. 


39 



THE QXTEST FOB EMPIEE 


as would serve as markets for Japanese 
finished goods. They should constitute 
sources of supply for the required raw 
materials and fuel. The Japanese 
should be able to invest their capital 
profitably in these territories, and so far 
as possible exclusively exploit them 
economically. Unfortunately, exclusive 
economic exploitation is not possible 
without political domination. In short 
Japan is in need of a country which 
should be to her what India and other 
dependencies have been to G-reat Britain. 
Geographers and historians have noticed 
many points of resemblance between 
Great Britain and Japan. The resem- 
blance, however, was till recently absent 
in one important respect. Whereas 
Great Britain possessed more than a 
quarter of the earth’s surface, the outside 
possessions of ‘the Britain of the East*, 
before the conquest of Manchuria, were 
comparatively iusignificant. It would 
have been surprising if the Japanese — 


40 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


universally recognized as the masters 
of the art of imitation — had not imitated 
Great Britain in this respect as well. 

The Japanese in recent years have 
adopted a definite policy of subjugating 
their neighbours, not merely because of 
economic reasons, which are formidable 
in themselves, but also because this 
policy is in conformity with their general 
outlook on life and specially with the 
present attitude of the younger 
generation. 

The Japanese have been a martial 
nation from olden times. We need not 
discuss the circumstances which have 
made them a martial people — their 
insular position has been perhaps the 
greatest contributory factor' — but their 
militarist character is undeniable : and 
even more important is their mentality. 

The Japanese consider themselves 
to be the direct descendants of the Sun- 

I. Ballard, Influence of the Sea on the Political History 
of Japan. 


41 




THE QUEST FOB EMPIEE 


Goddess. They claim that they are the 
“Children of the Gods”, and that they 
are the only race on earth that can make 
this claim. It is a part of their creed 
that members of other races are 
barbarians. The Japanese attitude 
towards the foreigner, in spite of extreme 
outwardly politeness, is of contempt 
and suspicion. The belief in their own 
superiority, irrespective of economic 
needs, is also responsible for a desire on 
their part to subjugate other peoples. 
The Japanese believe that they are of 
divine origin, and that it is their right 
and duty to govern others. 

A few years ago the Chinese news- 
papers of Canton published an interesting 
document'. According to these news- 
papers the Emperor of Japan, in the 
year 1926, asked the then Premier, 
Baron Tanaka, to prepare a plan of 


I. The Document has also been mentioned in 
Wheeler- Bennett’s Documents on International Affairs 

( 193 *)* 


42 




THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


Japanese expansion abroad, for the 
future guidance of Japanese governments. 
The Premier prepared a plan after 
one year’s careful study of the interna- 
tional situation and submitted it te 
the Emperor. This imperialist programme 
has been divided into six periods. First 
of all it is proposed to take Manchuria 
and Mongolia, for reasons not far to seek ; 
then (2) the valley of the Yangtse, the 
richest and the most populous Chinese 
territory ; after which (3) is the turn of 
South China ; then (4) of Indo-China ; and 
(6) of Dutch East Indies and Philippines ; 
and lastly (6) of India ! Detailed sugges- 
tions are given as to the means which 
should be adopted in bringing every one 
of these territories under control, most 
of the suggestions being based on lessons 
of history, specially that of British 
India. The authenticity of the document 
may of course be challenged ; and let us 
hope that the programme will never be 
fulfilled I It cannot be denied, however,, 


43 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 

that India figures largely in the 
calculations of the militarists of 
Japan. 

Leaving aside hidden schemes, there 
are open pronouncements. General 
Araki, the idol of the youth of Japan 
and one of the principal organizers of 
the Manchurian invasion, clearly defined 
the ‘mission’ of J apan in a speech before 
the General Stafi : — 

“What is the present state of 
the East ? India with its popula- 
tion of 300,000,000 lives in dire 
misery under Britain’s oppressive 
rule. There is not a vestige of 
liberty left in the fertile plains of 
Central Asia and Siberia. Mon- 
golia, that land of peace has be- 
come a second Central Asia. The 
countries of the Far East are the 
object of pressure on the part of 
white races. But awakened Japan 
can no longer tolerate further 
tyranny and oppression at their 


44 



THE EXPANSION OP JAPAN 


hands... As a divine country in the 
Eastern Seas and the senior nation 
of Asia, Japan’s aspirations are 
great and her responsibility is 
heavy”*. 

An interesting book has been recently 
published by Lt. Commander Tota 
Ishimaru, ^ Japan Must Fight Britain\ 
which throws light on Japanese 
ambitions with regard to India. In 
the words of this author, “the inhabi- 
tants of India are burning to throw off 
the yoke of the foreign oppressor”. He 
explains fully his scheme about the 
conquest of India. 

Pronouncements such as these leave 
no room for doubt that the Japanese 
are looking forward to a time when their 
hegemony over Asia will be an accom- 
plished fact. It is the “Yellow Man’s 
Burden” ! Japan may not, probably 
will not, conquer other parts of Asia as 

I. The Japan Weekly Chronicle^ i6th March, *933, 
quoted by O'Conroy, The Menace of Japan, p. 26if. 


45 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


she has conquered Manchuria and the 
adjacent territories, but she is not going 
to be satisfied with anything short of 
the dominant position in the East. The 
Japanese regard themselves as the 
natural leaders of Asia and they believe 
they are entrusted with the task of 
protecting this continent. How can 
they shirk their “responsibility*' ! 

Let us now look at the problem from 
another angle. If we examine Japanese 
history, it would seem that the present 
Japanese policy is a natural outcome of 
past developments. Modern Japanese 
history is the most extraordinary record 
of the transformation of an insignificant 
people into an imperialistic nation. 
Once the Japanese had adopted Western 
fashions in administration, sanitation, 
engineering and warfare, and conse- 
quently become powerful, they began 
to feel the need of overseas possessions. 
Ohina was near at hand. China, being 
weak and divided, fell an easy prey to 


46 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


the aggrandizement of foreign nations, 
including the Japanese. In 1894 there 
was a war between China and Japan. 
This may be regarded as the first 
important imperialist attempt on the part 
of the Japanese, although even before 
that date Japan had acquired numerous 
small islands. For instance in 1876, only 
seven years after the Meiji Restoration, 
the Kuriles, a chain of thirty islands 
lying to the north-east, were annexed. 
Two years later the Bonin Islands, 
twenty-seven in number, were acquired. 
In 1879 the Lu Chus were taken posses- 
sion of, which form an archipelago 
of fifty-five islands, the soil of which 
is very rich and fertile. The Volcano 
Islands adjoining the Bonin Islands 
were annexed in 1891. Then the 
Sino-Japanese War ( 1894-96 ) disclosed 
that China was the “Sick Man” of the 
Far East. People spoke of the “impen- 
ding break-up” of China. Western 
Powers rushed to the Par East in their 


47 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


mad greed for new territories. The 
partition of China seemed to be just a 
question of time. The success of Japan 
in this War would have been even more 
complete but for the interference of 
other powers, particularly of Russia. 
Even then by the Treaty of Shimonoseki 
Japan acquired Formosa, an extremely 
fertile island, specially suitable for the 
production of sugar. Unlike other 
previous Japanese acquisitions, Formosa 
was a purely Chinese island, and even 
to-day 94 per cent of its people are 
Chinese. China had also to cede the 
Pescadores Islands and to recognize the 
independence of Korea, which meant 
that the Japanese could now dominate 
Korea. But because of the joint action 
of Russia, Grermany and France, Japan 
was compelled to give up all claims 
over the Liaotung Peninsula, which 
by the same treaty had been ceded by 
China. It was not due to humanitarian 
reasons that these three powers had come 


48 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 

forward to champion the cause of weak 
China. As the history of their later 
relations with that country shows, their 
real motive was different, and they soon 
got the reward of their ‘assistance’ to 
China. 

Of the Powers that were at the time 
taking advantage of the weakness of 
China, Russia appeared to bo in a very 
favourable position. Japan was not yet 
strong enough to challenge single-handed 
the Western Powers on the mainland. 
The growing power of Russia and the 
mutual danger of a conflict with that 
country led to the conclusion of the Anglo- 
Japanese Alliance of 1902. Perhaps 
the most important provision of this 
treaty was this : “Should either contrac- 
ting power become involved in a conflict 
with any third power, the other would 
exert its influence to prevent others 
from joining in hostilities against its ally. 
Should, however, any third power 
intervene, it should be the duty of the 

49 

4 



THE QUEST FOK EMPIRE 


other contracting power to come to the 
assistance of its ally, and to maintain 
war in common.*' 

That this alliance was very significant 
lor the strengthening of Japanese 
position goes without saying. The treaty, 
which was to last for five years in the 
first instance, was the first of its kind 
concluded between an Oriental power 
and one of the leading nations of the 
West. 

In 1904 came the Russo-Japanese 
War. The war resulted in a great 
victory for the land of the Rising Sun. 
Japan secured from Russia the Southern 
portion of Sakhalin and the Kwantung 
Leased Area, apart from the South 
Manchuria Railway. Special economic 
rights were granted to Japan in Korea, 
by far the largest possession of Japan 
before the conquest of Manchuria with 
an area of 86,613 sq. miles and a popula- 
tion of 13 million at that time and of 
20 million at present. Formal annexa- 

50 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


tion came in 1910. The consequence of 
Japanese success against Russia was 
that Japan at once became a World 
Power. But in spite of this success 
she still valued British friendship. And 
the fact that the Anglo- Japanese 
Alliance was renewed shortly before the 
signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth 
showed that Great Britain on her side 
was also anxious to be on friendly terms 
with a power whose prestige was “a thing 
to conjure with throughout all Asia.” 
The Alliance was renewed for a second 
time in 1911, and it was in force on the 
eve of the World War. 

Consequently Japan joined the Allies. 
She reaped a fairly large harvest as a 
result of the War. Without much effort 
and with little sacrifice Japan defeated 
Germany in the Pacific and conquered all 
the German possessions, including Shan- 
tung. Then she turned towards China 
and finally, after the overthrow of the 
Tsarist regime, towards Russia. The 


51 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


well-known Twenty-one Demands were 
presented in 1916, the object of which 
was to convert China into a Japanese 
protectorate. In spite of the support of 
the interested powers China had no 
option but to accept the substance of 
these Demands. The Demands, as 
well as her attitude towards Russia, 
revealed the true nature of Japan’s 
expansionist policy in the Far East. 
But the Western Powers were not in a 
position to check the Japanese advance 
in China. In fact in the year 1917 (by 
the Lansing-Ishii Agreement concluded 
on November 3,) the U.S.A. themselves 
recognized that “territorial propin- 
quity creates special relations between 
countries” and that “Japan has special 
interests in China, particularly in the 
part to which her possessions are 
contiguous.” But the efforts of Japan 
to extend her dominion to the neigh- 
bouring territories, which had been 
successful during the War, because of 


52 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


the preoccupation of otiior powers else- 
where, were effectively neutralized first 
by the Paris Peace Conference and then 
by the Washington Conference of 1921 - 22 . 

Like Italy Japan came out of the Peace 
Conference of Paris a dissatisfied nation. 
Most of her demands vis-a-vis China 
were not accepted. Still Japan was 
made the lease-holder of Germany’s 
naval base at Kiouchau. She succeeded 
to all the economic concessions 
formerly enjoyed by Germany in the 
populous Shantung Peninsula. She 
acquired an extensive “sphere of 
influence” in Southern Manchuria and 
she received a mandate — a disguised 
form of possession, specially when it 
belongs to category ‘C' — over the 
formerly German owned islands in the 
Pacific comprising the Marianne, Caroline 
and Marshall groups. These islands are 
valuable for Japan not only for economic 
but for strategic reasons. For as a 
result, the Philippines and Guam have 


53 



THE QXIEST FOB EMPIBE 


been practically isolated and are at the 
mercy of the Japanese navy. Japan has 
been able to tighten her grip on the 
communications between China and the 
outside world. Having been disappointed 
at the verdict of the Peace Conference 
Japan embarked on a huge naval 
building programme in order to realize 
her ambitions on the mainland. On her 
side Great Britain by this time had 
begun to feel that the Anglo- Japanese 
Alliance was being exploited by Japan 
to her own exclusive advantage. The 
Americans openly said that “while the 
Alliance lasted, the hands of Great 
Britain were tied as far as Japan’s 
aggressive policy on the mainland was 
concerned.” They accused Great Britain 
of forsaking the policy of the Open Door, 
and of being responsible for Japanese 
expansionist policy. It was thought to 
be in the interest of both the English- 
speaking peoples to call a halt to the 
growth of Japan’s prestige and power 


54 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


lest she should oust both the nations 
from the Far East. Japan was now 
claiming special privileges in China, and 
to enforce her will she was rapidly increa- 
sing her armaments and expanding her 
navy. It was in order to settle these 
problems that the Washington Confer- 
ence was called towards the end of 1921 . 

As a result of the Conference 
J apan had to give up, at least for the 
time being, her ambitious programme 
of political domination over the Chinese 
continent. The Shantung Peninsula 
was to be transfeiTed from Japan to 
China. As a result of the Nine Power 
Treaty she had to accept the principle 
of the Open Door and had to forego the 
claim for an exclusive control of China. 
She, along with other signatories, agreed 
not only to respect the sovereignty and 
independence and territorial integrity 
of China but also “to refrain from taking 
advantage of conditions in China in 
order to seek special rights or privileges 


55 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


which would abridge the rights of subjects 
or citizens of friendly states, and from 
countenancing action inimical to the secu- 
rity of such states.” (Art. I, Part. 4 of the 
Nine Power Pact, Feb., 1922. Parties : 
Great Britain, U.S.A., Japan, China, 
France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, and 
Italy.) The Anglo-Japanese Alliance 
came to an end. The termination of 
this alliance has been considered a 
master stroke of international diplomacy. 
Japan as a result became diplomatically 
isolated. She had to accept an inferior 
position in the naval sphere. A ratio 
of 6 : 6 : 3 was fixed for the war navies 
of Great Britain, U. S. A. and Japan 
respectively. 

Japan accepted the terms of the 
Washington Treaty because at this stage 
she was not powerful enough to challenge 
the combined strength of Chinese 
nationalism and Anglo-American deter- 
mination. For Japan the time had not 
yet come to strike. She had to wait for 


56 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


the favourable moment. She tempor- 
arily ,a:ave up the expansionist policy 
and adopted the policy of peaceful 
economic penetration of the Asiatic 
countries. The policy, as we have 
already pointed out, appeared to be 
successful for a few yeai's. From 1926 
onwards, however, there was a continuous 
decline in Japanese international trade, 
largely due to restrictions imposed by 
the governments concerned, and not the 
least due to Chinese boycott. With the 
coming of economic distress, the influence 
of the extreme militarists began to 
increase. The old aristocratic and 
military groups became alarmed at the 
spread of revolutionary ideas and they 
had now some justification in saying that 
the policy of conciliation followed for a 
decade had borne no fruit. They now 
demanded the adoption of an aggressive 
imperialist policy. 

This military party now found support 
among the capitalists who had been their 


57 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


great opponents but who had now begun 
to feel the disastrous eflect of foreign 
restrictions. Political power was now 
snatched from the bourgeois politicians 
and parliamentary leaders by the 
military and naval authorities. They 
became the supreme masters of the land. 
They made and unmade ministries, and 
generally imposed their will upon the 
Civil Government. The peculiar consti- 
tution of Japan also assisted them in the 
establishment of their supremacy. For 
the Japanese Emperor is the supreme 
commander of the various forces and the 
Chiefs of Staff have the right to advise 
him, directly. Moreover according to 
the Japanese constitution the ministers 
for the Navy and Army have to be 
appointed from among senior naval and 
military officers, respectively. 

Chinese weakness itself invites inva- 
sion. The Japanese contention that 
China has been so far unable to establish 
a strong central government and to mam- 

58 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


tain law and order and has therefore been 
a disturbing element in the Far Bast, is 
no doubt true, although it will not be 
regarded by impartial persons as a justi- 
fication for Japanese invasion of Chinese 
territory. China is helpless, due largely 
to the lack of national unity'. And the 
lack of national unity is duo to many 
causes — direct and indirect foreign domi- 
nation, the vastness of her territory, the 
inadequacy of the means of communica- 
tion being a few of them. Add to them 
Communist risings and the activities of 
war-lords and bandits and you have a 
picture of China. Japan suffered only 
less than China as a result of this anarchy. 
A very large percentage of Japan's 
foreign trade was with China. The 
disturbed condition of that country was 
a serious hindrance for Japan. The 
attacks of Chinese nationalism against 
foreigners in general and against the 
Japanese in particular became more 


1. Lytton Report, p. l8ff. 

59 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


vigorous as time advanced. Boycott was 
the chief weapon employed by the Chinese. 
When China succeeded in negotiating 
treaties with foreign powers which 
restored to her full control over her tarifi 
policy and which relinquished extraterri- 
torial rights within the Republic, Japan 
became the principal object of attack. 
The World Economic Depression brought 
the situation to a head. Finally Japan 
decided to embark on a policy of 
strong action. 

But why did Japan, to begin with, 
select Manchuria for conquest ? This 
was due to many reasons. Manchuria is 
very near Japan and is adjacent to the 
Japanese possession of Korea. It is large 
and very fertile. It is rich in mineral 
resources and the desired raw materials, — 
coal, iron, ore, cotton and the staple food, 
soya beans. The coal reserves of 
Manchuria have been estimated at, 
2,700,000, (XX) metric tons. Cotton grow- 
ing may be developed to the extent of 


60 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


making Japan wholly independent of 
other countries in this respect. The 
territory also ofiers huge supplies of soya 
beans — 69.3 per cent, of world production. 
Soya bean is said to be the most impor- 
tant food plant in the world. Apart from 
its food value it has important industrial 
uses'. Although the population of Man- 
churia is considerable, being more than 
thirty million, yet it does not compare 
favourably with that of Japan or China 
proper. It has some strategic importance 
as well, for its effective possession may 
prevent Russia from becoming a naval 
power at all. Besides, Japan even before 
the conquest enjoyed exceptional treaty 
rights in the southern half of Manchuria 
ever since 1905, when the South Manchu- 
rian Railway Company was organized to 
take over the Russian Railway. All 
administrative functions in the area were 
assigned to the Company. It was autho- 

1. G. D. Gray in Foreign Affairs, vol. 13 , no. 3 , 
P- 34>* 


61 




THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


rised to impose taxes and to engage in 
many industrial and commercial activities. 
As a result of the Twenty-one Demands 
(1915), Japan obtained many more rights, 
some of which she had to renounce in 
1922 after the Washington Conference. 
Thus it is clear that Japan occupied an 
unusual position in Manchuria. 

Moreover, there are sentimental re- 
asons for Japan’s action. She has lost a 
large number of her sons on the plains of 
Manchuria in the Sino- Japanese War of 
1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese War of 
1904-05. Japan naturally likes to own 
the “cemetry of Japan’s Youth’”. She 
had in fact conquered Liaontung in 1894, 
but had to return it owing to interna- 
tional pressure. This is a bitter 
memory. 

Then, Japanese investments in Man- 
churia have been on a gigantic scale. 
The enormous amount of over H billion 
Yen had been sunk in Manchuria, 

I. O’Conroy, The Menace of Japan. 


62 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


principally in railways, which were 
threatened because of the Chinese policy 
to develop their own railways. 

The following table shows 

the extent 

and spheres of Japanese investments in 

Manchuria in 1930'. 


(in 1,000 Yen) 


Railway 

425, 216 

Ports and harbours • • • 
Agriculture, mining 

83, 201 

and Factory 

268, 990 

Industry 

110, 121 

Commerce ... 

117, 763 

Electricity and Gas . . . 

37, 283 

Banking 

106, 706 

Financing and trust . . . 

97, 634 

Public utilities 

302, 269 

Others 

49, 468 

Total*” 

1688, 630 


These are in short the reasons why 
Japan chose to fall first of all upon Man- 
churia, in preference to other parts of 
China. 

I. Japanese Trade and Industry, p. 630. 


63 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


In 1931 on the pretext that the Chinese 
had murdered a Japanese officer and had 
tried to destroy a section of the Japanese 
railway in Manchuria, Japan decided to 
take forcible possession of Manchuria. 

In September 1931 came the Sino- 
Japanese War. It was no doubt a war, 
even if it was, and still is, referred to as 
a “dispute.” Despite Japan’s member- 
ship of the League of Nations, and despite 
the fact that she was a party to many an 
important international engagement — 
such as the League Covenant, the Kellog 
Pact and the Nine Power Pact — she 
actually invaded Chinese territory. 
Public opinion all the world over was 
indignant. But Japan stuck to her 
policy. 

In spite of the protests of the League 
and of many important states Japan 
seized the capital at Mukden and con- 
quered the whole country. The forces of 
Marshal Chang were driven out and 
all Chinese authority was overthrown. 


64 






THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 

Although she amusingly calls it an 
‘independent state,’ Manchuria is now a 
Japanese possession in every sense of the 
word. Japan denies to have broken any 
of her engagements ! She says that the 
present situation is a result of the 
exercise of the right of self-determination 
on the part of Manchurians. Japanese 
troops have been stationed there to 
ensure this “right” to the people. 

Manchuria is now called Manchukuo. 
The Chinese boy-Einperor Henry Pu Yi, 
who had to abdicate in 1912, was 
first made the Regent and then in 1934 
formally crowned as the Emperor of 
the newly established state. In reality 
Japan is the master of Manchuria. 
She is trying to make the best use of 
its resources. She has already success- 
fully excluded the foreigners from all the 
important enterprises. 

Having consolidated her position in 
Manchuria Japan turned in 1933 towards 
Jehol, a province lying in the southwest 

65 

5 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


of the new protectorate. Japan claimed 
that Jehol was an integral part of 
Manchuria. She started preparations for 
the subjugation of this province. The 
Kuomintang on their side had unani- 
mously passed a resolution in December 
1932 that every effort should be made to 
resist further Japanese advance.' A 
large Chinese army, consequently, was 
stationed in the province of Jehol to stop 
Japanese aggression. Japan took serious 
objection to the presence of this army 
which she pretended threatened the 
security of Manchukuo. An ultimatum 
was sent in February 1933 demanding 
the Chinese withdrawal from Jehol, and 
on its rejection Japanese advance began. 
■Within about two weeks time no Chinese 
troops were left north of the Great Wall, 
but the armistice was not concluded till 
the end of May, when the Chinese army 
withdrew west of Peking and the Japan- 
ese promised to retire north of the Great 

I. Epstein. Annual Register, 1932. p. 293. 


66 




THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


Wall. The territory evacuated by the 
Japanese was to become “demilitarized,” 
and was to be policed by the Chinese. 
Jehol was now included in Manchukuo, 
and this gave Manchukuo a “natural” 
frontier. But even the possession of this 
province did not satisfy Japan, She 
began her penetration of Inner Mongolia 
on the one hand and China proper, south 
of the Great Wall, on the other. 

In the summer of 1936 there were 
those inevitable incidents which have so 
often compelled states to extend their 
possessions reluctantly. Skirmishes 
took place along the Western and 
Southern frontiers of Jehol between 
Japanese and Chinese troops. Tokyo 
protested vigorously and made certain 
demands, such as the removal of the 
Chinese general in Chahar (Inner Mongo- 
lia), and of many officials in Hopei ( a 
province of China south of the Great 
Wall). It was also demanded that 
Chinese troops should be withdrawn from 


67 



THE QUEST FOR EJIPIRE 


both these provinces. China had no 
other option but to comply with these 
demands. Thus were placed two more 
provinces under the tutelage of Japan. 
Technically they remained under Chinese 
sovereignty. Japan, however, knows only 
too well the art of reconciling her own 
efiective control with the theoretical 
sovereignty of others. 

Japan’s aspirations were not satisfied 
even by the control of these two addi- 
tional provinces, and she made a definite 
attempt to extend her influence to Shensi, 
Shansi and Shantung. The declared 
aim of Japan in penetrating south of the 
Great Wall is to “preserve the peace” in 
Eastern Asia. 

A word about the importance of 
these North Chinese provinces will not 
be out of place. Chahar’s strategic 
importance is very great. Japan can 
now efiectively check any Russian 
movement towards Manchukuo and 
prevent the extension of communist 


68 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


influence in China. Japan can inter- 
rupt communication between Russia 
and China throuijh her control of the 
ancient caravan route which connects 
North China with Siberia and passes 
through the Gobi Desert. Similarly by 
her control of the railway line which 
connects Peiping with Suiyuan she can 
interrupt communication between North 
China and Inner Mongolia. Hopei, 
Shensi, Shansi, and Shantung are from 
purely economic point of view very 
attractive regions. Hopei contains 
two most important cities of North 
China, namely Peiping and Tientsin. 

The moment chosen by Japan for 
the invasion of Manchuria was very 
suitable from the Japanese stand-point. 
Not only was China weak and divided, 
which she had been even before 1931, 
but the Powers interested in China were 
busy at this time in conquering their own 
internal troubles. Great Britain’s whole 
economic system was in danger of 


69 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


collapse. The pound sterling was totter- 
ing and the gold standard had to be 
abandoned. Even the U. S. A. were now 
feeling the unhappy effects of the World 
Economic Depression. They were expe- 
riencing a depression which they had 
never known, and which they thought 
they would never have to experience. 
Eussia was busy with her First Five Year 
Plan and a war was the last thing the 
Bolsheviks desired. Japan had been 
systemetically preparing for the invasion 
of Manchuria and in 1931 the interested 
powers thought it wise not to challenge 
Japan in that part of the world where 
she held an advantageous position. 
Japan was not likely to let this 
opportunity go. 

Although the Japanese aggression 
did not result in war between Japan and 
the interested powers, yet it had impor- 
tant diplomatic repurcussions. 

We notice changes specially in Soviet 
and American policies. Russia received 


70 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


a severe blow in the Far East as a result 
of Japanese action. For it meant much 
more than the end of Russian influence 
in China and Manchuria and a threat 
to her de facto sovereignty of Outer 
Mongolia. There is reason to believe 
that Japan would not hesitate to occupy 
even purely Russian territories in the 
Extreme East should opportunity present 
itself. Russia may be prepared to 
recognise Japanese claims in Manchuria, 
as is evident by her sale to Japan of her 
share in the Chinese Eastern Railway 
for less than £10,000,000, and perhaps 
even in Inner Mongolia, but she would 
certainly not tolerate any encroachment 
upon Russian territory. Such a step 
will undoubtedly result in war between 
the two countries. 

That Japan is preparing for such a 
war, and that she expects a conflict in 
Siberia in the not very distant future is 
evident from the rapid construction of a 
new railway line in Manchuria, which 


71 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


was opened in 1934, between Keshang 
and Sakhalyan. It connects Harbin with 
the Soviet frontier by a new route. 
Clearly the line is of great strategic 
importance. Apart from economic gain — 
for it opens up a new agricultural 
region — it connects the new Japanese 
protectorate with the heart of Siberia 
by a much shorter route. In case of 
war with Russia this railway line would 
enable Japan to transport troops and 
supplies much more quickly to the 
Russian frontier. Blagovestchenask is 
an important Russian military and trade 
centre and has a railway which runs into 
the heart of Siberia. The conquest of 
this town will enable the Japanese army 
to cut ofi all Russian communication 
with Vladivostok by the Trans-Siberian 
Railway, and will place the Soviet 
maritime province in the Farthest East 
at the mercy of the Japanese invading 
army. Many towns are being rapidly 
founded on the new line. Penshan has 


72 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


already become quite important. Japan 
intends to build a large aerodrome in 
this town, for the place happens to be 
within easy striking distance of Soviet 
Russia, 

Ever since its conquest Japan has 
kept a very large army in Manchukuo. 
It has been estimated that 130,000 
Japanese troops, or one-third of the 
whole national army, are stationed in 
the new protectorate. Over and above 
there are 110,000 Manchukuo soldiers, 
and 12,000 trained “White-guardists,” 
under Japanese command. One should 
be a great believer in the innocence of 
man to think that these forces are 
meant merely for the maintenance of 
“domestic peace.” Russians are not such 
optimists. 

It is quite understandable that Russia 
should be alarmed at the Japanese 
conquest of Manchuria and her probable 
intentions with regard to Outer Mongolia 
and Siberia. Russia has to protect 2,000 


73 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


miles of frontiers from Vanchuli to 
Vladivostok which directly touch the 
territory which has now for all practical 
purposes become a Japanese possession. 
Besides, this territory projects into the 
domain of Russia ; and Vladivostok, the 
only important Russian port in the 
Pacific, is connected with European 
Russia by means of the Chinese Eastern 
Railway which passes through Manchuria. 
True, the Trans-Siberian Railway also 
connects it with the West, but apart from 
the fact that this is a much longer route, 
as compared with the other, the Trans- 
Siberian line, too, very closely skirts the 
Manchurian frontier and therefore cannot 
be regarded as immune from Japanese 
invasion. 

The Sino-Japanese War affected 
Soviet policy in two directions. Firstly 
it necessitated a military preparation 
on the part of Russia for a final 
settlement with Japan. Secondly there 
came a remarkable change in Russia’s 


74 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


relations with many countries of the 
world including the U. S. A. 

The Par Eastern crisis brought Russia 
and the U. S. A. nearer each other. The 
U. S. A. was the only Great Power which 
had consistently refused to recognise the 
Government of the U. S. S. R. It was 
regarded as very unlikely that Soviet 
Russia and the United States, the most 
prominent representatives of such antago- 
nistic political and economic systems as 
Communism and Capitalism, would ever 
come to an understanding with each 
other, Post-War American Presidents, 
Wilson, Hardinge, Coolidge and Hoover, 
all had been opposed to the establish- 
ment of diplomatic relations with the 
U. S. S. R. America refused to recognise, 
the Soviet Government on cultural and 
religious grounds, which still carry some 
weight in America. But in the year 1933^ 
the world was not even surprised to find 
the new President of the U. S. A. taking^ 
the initiative in inviting Russia to send 


75 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


over a representative in order to “explore 
personally all questions outstanding be- 
tween the two countries.” Litvinofif, the 
Commissar for Foreign ASairs, went to 
America. Negotiations continued for a 
few days. The result of these negotiations 
was that the Soviet Government was 
recognised by the U. S. A. in November, 
1933. President Roosevelt declared that 
he wished to establish “not merely 
normal but friendly relations” with the 
U. S. S. R.' 

The American and other apologists of 
Roosevelt’s policy would have us believe 
that economic considerations were 
responsible for this reversal of American 
policy. But an examination of the 
economic conditions of both these 
countries would make it clear that 
economics had very little, if at all, to do 
with this rapprochement. America can- 
not import anything from Russia, for 

I. Details may be studied in the Survey of Inter-' 
tational Affairs for 1933. 


76 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


practically all that Russia is in a position 
to export to America is found in abun- 
dance in the U. S. A. If that be true, 
then in these days when the world has 
reverted to the barter system in inter- 
national trade, Russia cannot afford to 
buy from America either, even if she 
I’equires certain goods produced in that 
country. Besides, had this change in 
policy been really due to economic 
considerations the recognition of Russia 
ought to have come long before 1933. It 
was not economics, it was politics that 
determined the policy of the U. S. A. 
There was now a new and very disturb- 
ing development in the relations between 
China and Japan. America could not 
keep quiet over a development which 
would in the end mean a powerful blow 
to her own opportunities in China and 
which would most certainly increase the 
power and prestige of her rival in the 
Pacific. America could now well 
visualise Japan installed at Vladivostok, 


77 



THE QUEST POE EMPIRE 


controlling the Pacific Ocean. It was 
not a very happy prospect for America. 
A Russo-American alliance, it was 
thought, would prove capable of check- 
ing the advance of Japan in China, just 
as the Anglo- Japanese Alliance had 
previously stopped Russian penetration of 
the Far East. This seems to be the only 
reasonable explanation of the change in 
America’s attitude towards Russia. The 
Japanese Foreign Office described this 
move in its inimitable style as “intensely 
interesting !’’ 

Another result of the Sino-Japanese 
conflict was a temporary change for the 
better in the relations between China 
and Russia. At the end of 1927, due to 
the energetic action taken by Chiang 
Kai-Shek, Russian influence in China had 
disappeared altogether. During the four 
years that followed there was no improve- 
ment in these relations. In fact they 
became worse as a result of the contro- 
versy over the Chinese Eastern Railway. 


78 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


In 1929 there arose a serious trouble over 
the Railway between Soviet Russia and 
Chang Hsiao-Liang. Soviet troops had 
to enter Manchuria in order to compel 
the Manchurian lord to respect the 
provisions of the Treaty of 1924, provi- 
ding for the joint ownership of the 
Railway. But the Sino-Japanese War 
resulted in a marked improvement in 
Russo-Chinese relations. China once 
more resumed diplomatic relations with 
Soviet Russia towards the end of 1932. 
This concession on the Chinese side must 
naturally be attributed to the Japanese 
policy in Manchuria. China seemed to 
realise that the Japanese peril was even 
more formidable than the Bolshevik. 
The renewal of the Russo-Chinese friend- 
ship came opportunely for both the 
countries. Japan at the time took the 
news seriously. An official spokesman 
regarded it as “most unwelcome.” He 
declared that “the elements most distur- 
bing to the peace of the world have now 


79 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 

joined hands, and Japan stands squarely 
against these forces.” 

What Eussian diplomacy could not 
achieve for five years in spite of constant 
endeavours was achieved due to Japan’s 
aggressive policy. Not only were diplo- 
matic relations restored between China 
and Russia, but the two countries 
remained on very friendly terms for some 
time. 

Shortly after the Sino- Japanese con- 
flict, Russia took up seriously the task of 
building a system of alliances in Europe, 
and settling many of the outstanding 
questions between herself and her 
European neighbours. The establishment 
of the Nazi regime in Germany consider- 
ably contributed towards the success 
that Russia achieved in this difficult task. 
But Russia has not wholly depended on 
diplomatic understandings. Her military 
preparations in the Far East have 
advanced with a thoroughness typical of 
Bolshevist Russia. 


80 



TIIE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 

Since the Far Eastern trouble started 
the Soviet authorities have been trying 
to improve communications between 
Western Russia and the Par East. They 
have also been trying to make their Par 
Eastern army as self-supporting as 
possible. A double-track railway com- 
munication has already been established 
between Samara and Karymskaya. The 
Trans-Siberian line has been repaired 
and a more efficient system of signalling 
has been instituted. A second track has 
also been laid on the Trans-Baikal-Amur- 
Ussari line. The Soviet Great Northern 
Railway, which runs from Moscow to 
North Vladivostok, was completed in 
November, 1936. It is described as the 
most important military railway in the 
world. The line runs parallel to the 
Trans-Siberian Railway, but is deep in 
the Soviet territory and therefore it will 
be easier to defend against Japan. 

Moreover, Siberia and the Far Eastern 
possessions of Russia are being systema- 

81 

6 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


tically colonized. They are being freed 
of “undesirable” elements. Settlers are 
being imported from Western Russia. 
As a result of the extraordinary privi- 
leges that are granted to them. Many 
Russians find it more convenient to 
settle there. Agriculture is receiving the 
attention that is its due. New industries 
are being established. The Soviet autho- 
rities believe, not without reason, that in 
the event of war it will be possible to 
support the Far Eastern army by the 
supplies from Siberia and the Par 
East. 

The total strength of the Far Eastern 
army is estimated at 160,000 men. 
Special attention is being bestowed on 
the construction of aeroplane bases. 
Irkutsk is an important example. 
Several hundred aeroplanes are kept 
there, out of which many are said to 
be heavy bombers. Chemical works 
have been started at Kamerovo to 
produce poison-gas and other war- 


82 



TIIE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


chemicals. All these measures clearly 
show that Russia, like Japan, is 
preparing for the struggle that is 
considered inevitable. 

One very important result of the Sino- 
Japanese War was that for the first time 
it showed the utter helplessness of the 
League of Nations to stop aggression 
when a Great Power was involved 
in it.' 

Immediately after the Japanese ad- 
vance in Manchuria, China appealed to the 
Council of the League of Nations to take 
cognizance of the situation. Both China 
and J apan were members of the League, 
and therefore the articles of the Covenant 
were unquestionably applicable to this 
case. But the tangible results of 
China’s several appeals were, firstly, the 


I. All the important documents connected with the 
Sino- Japanese War with special reference to the League of 
Nations have been collected and systematically arranged 
by Wheeler- Bennett in the Documents on International 
Affairs (1932). 


83 



THE QXIEST FOR EJIPIRE 


adoption by the Council and the Assem- 
bly of resolutions asking both the parties 
to respect each other’s rights and to 
avoid any aggravation of the situation, 
secondly the appointment of a Commis- 
sion of enquiry under the chairmanship 
of Lord Lytton, a former Governor of 
Bengal, and of a Committee of Nineteen 
to deal with the situation. 

The report of the Commission was 
presented in October, 1932. It con- 
demned the action of Japan. It des- 
cribed Manchukuo as a puppet state 
and its government as unsupported 
by the majority of the people. It 
recognized the special position of Japan 
in Manchukuo but did not consider 
it as a justification for the invasion. 
It recommended the withdrawal of 
Japan from Manchuria and the con- 
clusion of treaties of commerce and 
friendship and mutual security between 
Japan and China. It also recommended 
the end of the Chinese boycott of foreign 


84 



TUB EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


goods. On the recommendation of the 
Committee of Nineteen the Report was 
adopted by the Assembly in February 
1933, by 42 votes to 1, the adverse vote 
being that of Japan. 

Japan contested the arguments of 
Lord Lytton and his colleagues and 
refused to be bound by their findings. 
Japan proclaimed that throughout 
she had been acting in self-defence, 
and therefore her action should not 
be regarded as a breach of the Kellogg 
Pact. She asserted that her action was 
not in contravention of the Nine Power 
Pact, because she had not impaired the 
integrity or independence of China ! All 
that had happened was : the Manchuri- 
ans had exercised the right of self- 
determination. Japan had recognized 
this right, and she was determined to see 
that the people of Manchuria were not 
deprived of it. As regards the Covenant 
she pointed out that China was not a 
state and therefore Articles 10, 11 and 16 


85 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


were not applicable to this case. 
Instead of retiring from Manchukuo, as 
the Commission had suggested, Japan 
retired from the League of Nations [ 

This open defiance of the League went 
wholly unpunished. The Covenant has 
provided that in these circumstances it is 
the duty of the member states to come to 
the rescue of the aggrieved party and to 
adopt measures of coercion against the 
aggressor. But even economic coercion 
was not resorted to. Article 16 which 
makes it incumbent on member states to 
sever all trade or financial relations with 
the guilty state and to have no dealings 
whatever with it was never applied to 
Japan. 

The League had succeeded in preven- 
ting or bringing to an early end many 
minor wars during its short period of 
existence. In 1931 there came the real 
test and the League failed miserably. 
Since the end of the World War nations 
had been trying to devise peaceful 


86 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


methods of settling international disputes. 
Many people believed that in the League 
of Nations the world had at last found an 
insititution which should prove to be an 
effective check to war. The Far Eastern 
crisis showed that it was yet a dream. 
The League of Nations failed, not only 
because there was something wrong in 
its constitution, but because the members 
of the League, particularly the Great 
Powers were not willing to coerce Japan. 
Great Britain was not prepared to take 
prompt action without the U. 8. A. The 
U. 8. A. protested against Japan’s action 
and evolved what has been called ‘the 
Stimson Doctrine’, but were not prepared 
to take the lead and adopt an active 
policy, backed by force of arms. The 
only consolation for China was that the 
League of Nations had refused to give 
legal recognition to Manchukuo ! 

It is difficult to prophesy what course 
the Japanese policy is going to take after 
the establishment of Japan’s position 


87 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


in Manchuria and Jehol. As pointed 
out, new complications have already 
arisen in North China. The new Agree- 
ment with Grermany ( concluded in 
November, 1936 ), and a general under- 
standing with Italy have further streng- 
thened the position of Japan, It seems to 
be, however, probable that so far as direct 
conquest of new territories is concerned 
we are not going to hear of it in the near 
future. But that does not mean that 
Japan will abstain from extending her 
indirect control, 

Japan’s aim will now be to 
consolidate what has been won. She 
has already got the control of those 
sources of supply of minerals and raw 
materials which she requires for the 
expansion of her industries. She will now 
have iron and coal and cotton in plenty. 
Japan by her conquest of Manchuria and 
Jehol has brought under her jurisdiction 
an area which is about the size of 
Germany and France and Belgium and 


88 



THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN 


Holland combined. In order to develop 
the resources of this vast area Japan 
would require many a decade. The 
possibilities of developing Manchuria are 
immense. It is true that Japan would be 
in need qf more markets, and China 
proper is an excellent market. But for 
the expansion of trade the good will of 
the country concerned is a necessary 
condition. Besides, the direct govern- 
ment of the whole of China is bound to 
be a source of weakness rather than of 
strength to Japan. Perhaps the interested 
powers will now also be in a better 
position to ofier resistance to any scheme 
of further Japanese expansion. On the 
side of China there are indications that 
she may after all forget and forgive the 
conquest of Manchuria and come to an 
understanding with her powerful neigh- 
bour. She must have by this time 
recognized the futility of appeals to the 
League of Nations. She has perhaps begun 
to realise the advantages of Japanese 


89 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


friendship faced as she is with internal 
disorders and communist upheavals. 

The three points of Mr. Hirota anno- 
unced towards the end of 193B seem to 
embody the present and future Japanese 
programme vis-a-vis China : (1) China 

must abandon her policy of playing one 
foreign country against the other and 
give positive demonstrations affecting all 
phases of Chinese life, of a “sincei’e"’ 
desire to co-operate with Japan; (2) China 
must recognize the existence of Manchu- 
kuo •, (3) China and Japan must form “a 
common front against the Chinese com- 
munists and the further extension of Red 
influence in China.”' 

Japan will try not only to prevent 
Russia but other nations as well from 
meddling in Chinese affairs. Japan 
has already made several important 
announcements in this connection. An 
announcement was made in April 1934 
by that mysterious person, “the 

I. Foreign Affairs, vol. 14 ; no. 4. 


90 



THE EXPANSION OP JAPAN 


oflScial spokesman” of the Japanese 
Foreign Office, in which it was said that 
Japan considered herself responsible along 
with China for the preservation of peace 
and maintenance of orderly government 
in East Asia and that she was not prepared 
to tolerate any foreign activities in China 
which in the opinion of tho Japanese 
Government were inimical to Japan.* 

Tho problem for Japan will now be to 
extend her influence over China without, 
however, taking over the impossible task 
of governing a whole continent. Japan 
will encourage those movements in China 
which aim at friendly relations between 
the two yellow peoples. It is likely that 
she will gradually establish a new 
“Monroe Doctrine” for the Far East, 
which is different from direct control. 
But for the achievement of this purpose 

I. Foreign Affairs^ vol. 13 ; no. i. The announcement 
which caused great misgivings in the Foreign Offices of 
many important countries, was followed by similar state- 
ments by Japanese diplomatic representatives in Washington, 
Geneva and London. 


91 



THE QXHIST FOB EMPIEE 


diplomacy will perhaps prove to be a more 
eflective weapon than aggressive military 
action. We may hear of occasional 
threats and minor coercive measures 
accompanying Japanese diplomatic acti- 
vity but very probably we shall not hear 
of any more serious attempts on the part 
of Japan to conquer other Chinese 
territories for the purpose of direct 
government. We are certainly going to 
hear of the “Hands ofi China” policy and 
the “Pan-Asiatic Doctrine ” but there is 
every reason to believe that Japan will 
not be the first to throw down the glove.' 
Not infrequently, however, it is the 
unexpected that happens in history, and 
therefore it is unwise to be dogmatic. 


I. Mogi and Redman, The Problem of the Far East, 
p. 3»9ff. 


92 



CHAPTER II 

THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 




As in the case of Japan, let us begin 
with the economic condition of Italy, 
for she, too, is demanding a place in the 
sun primarily for economic reasons. 
Three economic grounds are given for 
the acquisition of colonies by Italy. 
Firstly, it is claimed that there is what 
has been called “population pressure” 
in Italy •, secondly, that Italy sufiers 
from a shortage of essential raw 
materials and fuels ; and, thirdly, that 
Italy is dependent upon imported food- 
stufls for domestic consumption. 

Italians, as is well known, are a 
growing nation, and they are growing 
rapidly. They have more than doubled 
themselves during the last hundred years. 
In 1816 the population of Italy was 
estimated at 18 million ; and shortly 
after the Unification they numbered 26 
million. Since then the number has 


95 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


increased enormously 
table demonstrates : ' 

as the 

following 

Year 

Population 

Year 

Population 

1872 

26,801,164 

1926 

39,349,000 

1882 

28,459,628 

1930 

40,769,000 

1901 

32,476,263 

1933 

41,806,000 

1911 

34,671,377 

1934 

42,217,000 

1921 

38,033,000 

1936 

42,621,000 


At present the population of Italy 
amounts to about 44 million souls and 
it is increasing at the rate of about 
400,000 a year. The continuous increase 
in the population of Italy, outstripping, 
as it does, the economic capacity of the 
country, has produced a dangerous 
situation. 

It is, however, strange that a country 
which claims colonies because of 
“population pressure” is doing all that 
lies in its power to aggravate this evil. 
In many of his speeches and writings 
Mussolini has expounded his views on 


I. Statesman’s Year Book. 

96 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 

this question. In the Chamber, in 1927, 
he said : 

“Italy needs 60 million inhabitants. 
Some unintellip^ent people may say there 
are too many of us. The intelligent 
will reply^ : there are too few of us. I 
claim that the numbers of a nation 
condition its political, and consequently 
its economic and moral power. To count 
for something Italy must emerge with 
a population of not less than 60 million 
inhabitants at the threshold of the 
second half of this century.” 

In an article, published in the 
Gerarchia, in September 1928, Mussolini 
again expounded his theory of population 
in these words : ‘ 

“The thesis that quantity may be 
replaced by quality is false ; false and 
stupid is the thesis that a lesser 
population signifies higher prosperity... 
Sixty million Italians will make the 

I. Quoted by ‘Elwin’ Fascism at Work, p. 164. 

97 

7 




THE QHE8T FOB EMPIRE 


weight of their numbers and their force 
felt in the history of the world.’’ 

The Fascist state has adopted a 
definite policy of stimulating the birth 
rate and increasing the population as 
rapidly as possible. Festivals of 
marriages and fecundity are celebrated 
in which the Duce himself participates, 
personally. Railway fare is reduced for 
honeymoon couples. Prizes are awarded 
to parents of a large number of children. 
Taxation is adjusted according to the 
size of the family. Many of the taxes 
decrease as the number of children 
increases. Parents of ten living sons 
do not pay any taxes. Childless spouses 
have to pay a higher inheritance tax 
than spouses with one child, and those 
with at least two children are completely 
exempt from inheritance taxes. Cheap 
homes are allotted by the local 
authorities in order of preference 
according to the size of the family. 
Some municipalities grant reductions for 


98 



THE EXPANSION OP ITALY 


gas, electricity, etc. Medals and diplomas 
and sometimes even premiums are 
ofiered for prolificacy. Municipalities 
organise productivity competitions and 
award prizes to the families which 
produce, most babies within a given 
number of years. The Fascist govern- 
ment maintains a regular department 
for the protection of maternity and 
childhood, known as the Opera Nationale 
della Matemita e delV Infanzia. Abortion 
is prohibited and severe punishment 
imposed on those who violate the law. 

Birth control is forbidden and the 
propaganda in its favour is put under 
heavy penalty by the new Fascist Penal 
Code. Here the Catholic church, too, 
comes to the assistance of the Fascist 
state, and declares that birth control is 
a sin, and procreation an “act of God.” 

Marriages are being encouraged and 
bachelors are discriminated against in 
many ways. Between the ages of 26 
and 65 heavy taxes are imposed upon 


99 



THE QUEST FOK EMPIRE 


them. In April 1934, the income tax 
on bachelors, which was already very 
high, was raised from 26 to 50 per cent 
of their incomes. In the Government 
Services they are clearly at a disadvan- 
tage. Appointments and promotions 
depend, to a large extent, upon the 
marital status of the individual. In 
November, 1933, the Duce issued an 
order that all bachelors who held offices 
in the party or wished to be nominated 
as candidates in the parliamentary 
election, must marry, otherwise they 
would lose their offices or not be 
nominated as candidates. 

Obviously, the population policy of 
Fascist Italy is based on military and 
political considerations and is quite in 
keeping with the imperialist tendencies 
of new Italy. The same considerations 
determine Fascist attitude towards 
emigration. 

Before the War a large number of 
Italians used to emigrate every year to 


100 



THE EXPANSION OP ITAEV 


other countries, principally to America 
and Argentine. In the last quarter of 
the nineteenth century, the average 
annual emigration rose to over 200, (XX), 
and during the first fourteen years of 
the present century, it reached the 
enormous figure of 600,000. But during 
the post-war period, largely due to the 
Immigration policy of nearly all countries 
which formerly admitted Italian emi- 
grants, the number dwindled, consi- 
derably. Then Italians began to 
emigrate, in fairly large number, to 
France and her African colonies. The 
French became alarmed at the growing 
immigration of Italians in South France. 
France did not seem willing to have any 
more Italians. She did not like to create 
an unemployment problem on a gigantic 
scale, from which unlike other countries 
she had not yet aufiered. 

Apart from this consideration, the 
Italians, who under the Fascist regime 
emigrated to France or her colonies, were 


101 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


staunch nationalists ; they were not 
prepared to merge themselves into the 
French nation and forget their own 
nationality, of which they were so proud. 
France, in accordance with her traditional 
policy, would either turn them into 
Frenchmen or would not have them at all. 
The question of the nationality of Italians 
in France and in French colonies, 
specially in Tunis, where Italians, by 
the way, formed the majority of the 
population, was one of the most 
important causes of post-War Franco- 
Italian tension. According to French 
law the third generation of all immigrants 
was to be legally regarded as French. 
The Fascist government insisted that 
Italian nationality was inalienable and 
permanent, wheresoever an Italian might 
have his domicile. The result of French 
legislation was that Italian emigration 
to France and her colonies very nearly 
came to an end. Only in 1935, France 
made a concession in this respect, when 


102 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


it was provided in the Rome Pact that 
in Tunis, all children, bom of Italian 
parents up to 1966, would retain their 
nationality. 

The Fascists themselves do not 
consider emigration as a very happy 
solution of their population problem, 
for in this way Italy is deprived of her 
best soldiers and labourers, those who 
emigrate being young and hardy people. 
Although Mussolini had once recognized 
emigration as ‘a physiological necessity 
for the Italian people,' ' after a few years 
of Fascist rule the traditional policy was 
reversed and the Government began to 
discourage emigration, even while there 
were still possibilities in this direction. 
Motives of prestige and military strength 
were responsible for it. Man-power 
must be conserved at all costs. Mussolini 
is very particular in retaining the sons 
of Italy, for according to him, “Italy 
must appear on the threshold of the 

I. Mussolini in a speech at Milan on April 2, 1923. 

103 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


second half of the century with a 
population of not less than 60,000,000 
inhabitants. If we fail... we shall not 
found an empire, we shall be degraded to 
a colony.” 

Signor Grandi explained the Fascist 
attitude towards emigration, in a speech 
in the Chamber on December 31, 1927 : 

“We, as Fascists, must have the 
courage to say that emigration is an 
evil so long as it is, as at present, directed 
towards countries of foreign sovereignty. 
Emigration is necessary, but it should 
be emigration to Italian countries and 
possessions only.”' 

But the Italian possessions mostly 
consisted of deserts and barren mountains. 
No wonder the Italian emigrants did not 
like the idea of exchanging France or 
America for their own colonies. 

Fascism has not been content to 
restrict emigration by means of propa- 
ganda and legislation ; it has even 

1. Quoted by 'Elwin' in Fascism at Work, p. i6i. 

104 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


induced Italians living in foreign 
countries to return home. Drastic 
reductions are granted in steamship and 
railway fares for repatriation. 

On the basis of what has been stated 
above, it becomes difilcult to say whether 
Italian imperialism is a result of 
‘population pressure’, or ‘population 
pressure’ an outcome of the imperialist 
policy of Fascist Italy. 

Shortage of raw materials and fuel 
is given as another justification for the 
aggressive colonial policy of Italy. Italy 
is very poor in raw materials and basic 
minerals. She has to import large 
quantities of coal, iron, steel, mineral 
oils, wood and cotton. During the five 
years, 1931 to 1935, her annual imports 
of raw materials and minerals averaged 
about 6,000,000,000 lire. Because of her 
poverty in this respect, she could not 
develop her industries as the Fascists 
would wish. The colonies of Italy were 
not capable of supplying Italy with 


105 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


the raw materials which she required. 
In the markets of the world, therefore, 
Italy stood at a considerable disadvantage 
as compared with other great industrial 
nations. 

Italy is very largely dependent upon 
import of foodstuffs, which annually 
amount to over 2,000,000,000 lire. The 
Fascist government has done all that 
is possible “to free the Italian people 
from the slavery of foreign bread.” It 
has carried on, specially since 1925, a 
regular campaign for making Italy 
self-supporting in respect of cereals. The 
^Battaglia del grand* has achieved some 
success, but there are limits to artificial 
encouragement by means of such 
‘battles’. The production of wheat has 
increased no doubt, but it has not kept 
pace with the increase in population, 
and Italy still imports about 20,000,000 
quintals of wheat every year. 

The result of over-population and 
general poverty of the country is that 


106 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


the people’s standard of living is low. 
Average income in Italy is lower than in 
any of the principal countries of the 
West and impartial observers are of 
opinion that, comparatively speaking, 
Italians ^re very poorly fed and ill- 
clothed. 

Italian colonies could not solve this 
problem, for reasons not far to seek. 

Italy, before the conquest of Abyssinia, 
had four colonial possessions, viz. Tripoli, 
Cirenaica, (both united into Libya), 
Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, apart 
from Aegean Islands which are fourteen 
in number and of which the Rhodes 
Island is the biggest with an area of 
642 sq. miles. The Italian colonies “were 
largely sand.”' Although their area 
was considerable, their population waa 
very small and their natural resources 
extremely meagre. The following facts 
and figures will help us in understanding 


I. Mussolini’s expression. 


107 




THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


the true nature of the Italian colonial 
Empire. 

Area and Population of the Italian 
Colonies'. 

Colony Population (1981) 

Total Italian 

Libya 632,600 707,663 29,749 

Eritrea 46,764 621,621 4,666 

Somaliland 194,000 1,010,816 1,630 

Total. .. 872,264 2,340,099 36,944» 

The Italian colonies could not absorb 
a large number of Italians because they 
were unfit for colonization. Not even 
one-half per cent of the Italian people 
oould make these colonies their home. 
In fact, the Italians in New York alone 
numbered twenty-five times as many as 
those in all the Italian colonies put 
together. 

1. Based on the Statesman's Year Book (1935). 

2. At present the number of Italians in the colonies 
is estimated at 40,000 out of 10,000,000 Italians living abroad. 


108 





THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


Trade between the mother country 
and the colonies has been negligible 
when compared with the colonial trade 
of other nations ; and even of this small 
trade Italian imports from her colonies 
have been three times as large as exports. 
How could it be otherwise. The colonies 
are of little economic value, because they 
are mostly barren. They cannot supply 
the raw materials which the mother 
country needs most ; and for purposes 
of trade they are valueless because 
they are so poor and thinly populated. 

No wonder the Italian Empire has 
been a heavy burden upon the national 
budget. In recent years, Italy has spent 
on average about 600 million lire 
annually on the colonies. For a country 
which has been considered for a long 
time as deficient in capital this is a huge 
sum. Italy has indulged in this kind of 
uneconomic imperialism for the sake of 
prestige, which in its turn, has led to 
more and more indebtedness, until the 


109 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


national debt reached the enormous 
figure of over 100,000,000,000 lire in 1935, 
the cost of the Abyssinian expedition 
apart. 

Italy was over-populated, short of raw 
materials and foodstufis ; and the 
Italian colonies, (before the conquest of 
Abyssinia), instead of being of help to 
Italy in these respects, were a constant 
burden on her finances. What was to be 
done in these circumstances ? Mussolini 
gave a simple and straight answer to the 
question. The problem was to be solved 
by means of a revision of the peace 
treaties and by reallotment of colonies 
and mandates. 

Speaking of the pressing need for 
more colonies Mussolini once said : 

“These two colonies (he meant the 
Italian possessions in Africa) cannot solve 
our population problem... We missed that 
legitimate satisfaction which should have 
come to us from right and from duty 
fulfilled during and after the War. 


110 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


Colonial development would have been 
for us not merely a logical consequence 
of our population problem, but would 
have constituted a formula for the 
solution of our economic situation. Even 
now, at a distance of ten years from the 
War, this ‘situation has to find its 
solution.” 

Italy could not understand why 
France with an almost steady population 
should have such vast overseas posses- 
sions in the form of colonies and mandates, 
specially when these areas happened to 
be so very near Italy. It seemed very 
unjust to Italians that Tunis, where 
Italians formed a majority of the 
population, should be a French and 
not an Italian possession, in spite of its 
nearness to Italy and in spite of her 
imperative need for colonies. 

Italy’s desire for colonies is not a 
new one. Ever since Italy has been 
united, she has dreamt of founding an 
Empire. 


Ill 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


Italian unity was accomplished in 
1870, under the House of Savoy. A few 
districts, however, still remained under 
foreign rule. Ever since the fall of the 
Roman Empire Italy had been a political 
nonentity and in the phrase of Metter- 
nich, nothing more than a geographical 
expression. Once, however, Italy had 
almost completely freed herself from 
foreign domination, for which she had 
to struggle hard for several generations, 
she herself became an imperialist nation. 
She demanded a place in the sun and 
did not hesitate in adopting a policy 
which meant depriving other peoples 
of their freedom. But she could not 
wholly concentrate her attention on 
the acquisition of colonies, as Italian 
patriotism could not be indifferent to 
the recovery of Italia Irredenta. 

Thus, after the unification, Italian 
policy was directed towards the achieve- 
ment of two main objectives : recovery of 
Italm Irredenta and the creation of a 


112 



THE EXPANSrON OF ITALY 

colonial Empire. The first objective could 
be achieved at the expense of Austria- 
Hungary, the second at the expense 
principally of France. Consequently the 
foreign policy of Italy from 1870 to 1914 
was a policy of indecision. She was 
wavering all the time. Shortly after 
France occupied Tunis in 1881, Italy 
joined the Austro-Qerman Alliance. But 
when France seemed to be willing to 
recognize Italian claims in Tripoli, her 
relations with the Germanic Empires 
became somewhat cool, and for some 
years before the World War Italy 
seemed to be inclining towards the 
Entente. Germany recognized, as 
Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg said that 
“Italian flirtations with the Entente had 
led to dangerous intimacies.” 

Throughout the period from 1871 
to 1914 Italy was restless. She was 
haunted by the memory that she 
was once the seat of a great empire. 
In order to be worthy of her heritage, 

113 

8 



TBB QUEST FOB EMPIBE 


she must carve off for herself an empire 
in Africa. 

When Italy seriouslj’^ took up the 
task of acquiring a colonial empire, the 
world had already been divided among 
some of the fortunate countries, not 
necessarily Great Powers. Most of the 
backward countries of the world had 
come under the direct or indirect control 
of one of the advanced nations. Thus 
Italy, like Germany, was seriously 
handicapped in her struggle for colonies. 
Whereas in the middle of the nineteenth 
century Africa was still largely unoccu- 
pied and even unexplored, by the time 
the Italians came in the field, all the 
attractive territories in Africa had been 
conquered and were being ‘civilized’ by 
the ‘senior’ Powers that had stolen a 
march over countries which were still 
striving for unity. 

The hopes of the Italian imperiahsts 
were dashed when France occupied 
Tunis in 1881 . Italian expansion in 


114 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


North Africa was thus nipped in the 
bud. The Italians had thought that 
the geographical situation of Tunis 
made it a natural starting point for 
an Italian Empire, since Tunis was 
less than 100 miles from Sicily, and 
already contained a large Italian 
population. Then in 1882 Great Britain 
occupied Egypt, and the Italians felt 
that they had been robbed of their 
‘natural’ field for expansion. A war 
with France and Great Britain, or one 
of them, was out of the question. All 
that Italy could do was to look round 
for other openings. 

Italy, turned towards the barren 
littoral of the Red Sea. With small 
beginnings Italy aspired after establishing 
an empire in East Africa which should 
include Abyssinia', a country that was 
still independent. If Italy could get a 

I. Abyssinia is a mutilated form of the name given to 
the country by the Arabs, originally meaning ‘confusion* or 
'mixed race.’ The official name of the country is Ethiopia, 


115 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


foothold on the coasts, she hoped to 
penetrate gradually into the Abyssinian 
hinterland. 

Although it was as far back as 1870 
that Rubattino, an Italian shipowner, 
purchased Assab on the Red ^ea coast, 
from a local chieftain, where he intended 
to establish a coaling station for his 
ships, it was only in the eighties of the 
last century that the town was actually 
occupied by the Italian Government. 
Having established themselves in Assab, 
they proceeded to occupy a strip of 
territory, several hundred miles long, 
but of little economic value. To this 
territory which lay between the arid 
shores of the Red Sea and the mountains 
of Abyssinia, the name of Eritrea was 
given, which is of classical origin, being 
derived from the Mare Erythraeum of 
the Romans. 

Simultaneously while Italy was 
acquiring Eritrea, she was extending her 
domain farther south. 


116 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


In 1889 Crispi, the Italian Prime 
Minister, laid claim to the long Somali 
coast, stretching for more than a thousand 
miles, because he had discovered that 
the local chieftains had an “ardent 
desire” for having Italy as their protector. 
That at least a part of this littoral 
belonged to Zanzibar mattered little, 
as Italy had come to an agreement with 
Great Britain, the protector of Zanzibar. 
As a result of the Convention of 1892 
Italy leased the Benadir Coast for an 
annual rent of 160,000 rupees. The 
government of this territory was first 
entrusted to a company, which had the 
privilege of exploiting the newly acquired 
lands, but in 1905 the Company, having 
incurred immense losses, which could 
not be made up by government subsidies, 
transferred its holdings to the Italian 
Government. 

The acquisition of Eritrea and Italian 
Somaliland was made possible because of 
encouragement by Great Britain, which 


117 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


was afraid of the designs of France in 
Africa'. The French, having lost Egypt, 
were after the conquest of Soudan and 
the extension of their influence in 
Abyssinia. Italy was used by Great 
Britain as a pawn in the international 
game. 

Italy was also encouraged in every 
way in her ambitions with regard to 
Abyssinia. Italy could not long remain 
satisfied with both the poverty-stricken 
colonies, which were not self-supporting 
even with regard to their administrative 
expenses. Abyssinia was a primitive 
country, and was supposed to be weak 
and unable to fight a European nation. 
In the eighties of the last century she 
had been further weakened by civil 
strife and war against the Soudanese 
dervishes, in which Negus John lost his 
life, at Gallabat, in March, 1889. 

At this stage the Italian intervention 
in Abyssinia began. Italy came forward 

I. Moon, Imperialism and World Politics, p. 144. 

118 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


to help Menelik, one of the local 
chieftains, who was trying to usurp the 
imperial throne, and in return for her 
assistance, she secured by the Treaty of 
Ucciali (1889), an extension of Eritrea 
into the Abyssinian highlands. Even 
more important, however, was Article 17 
of this Treaty which read : “His Majesty 
the King of Kings of Ethiopia shall he 
at liberty to avail himself of the govern- 
ment of His Majesty the King of Italy 
for the treatment of all questions 
concerning other powers and govern- 
ments.” This was in the Amharic text. 
The Italian version was different. In 
place of the phrase ‘shall he at liberty to' 
was employed the word ‘consents', which 
changed the whole meaning of the article 
and converted Abyssinia into an Italian 
protectorate. 

Italy thought that the Treaty of 
Ucciali gave her the entire control over 
the foreign policy of Abyssinia. The 
Negus would not accept the Italian 


119 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


version. The independence of Abyssinia 
now became the real issue. 

The inevitable clash came in 1896. 
Menelik, the Negus, had a united people 
behind him, and had received in previous 
years, invaluable help in the form of 
artillery and firearms, from ' France, 
which for obvious reasons, was jealous 
of Italian expansion. 

It is not necessary to go into the 
details of the Italo- Abyssinian War 
of 1896-96. One fact emerges clearly 
from what happened : The Italy of 
Crispi did not appreciate the dangers and 
dif&culties of an invasion of Abyssinia. 
The Italian Premier took it for granted 
that civilisation must triumph over 
barbarism. Italy had no experience of 
colonial warfare on a large scale. No 
wonder she was caught in the very trap 
which she had prepared. 

The battle of Adowa (March 1, 1896), 
which resulted in the annihilation of the 
pick of the Italian army, was the first 

120 



THE EXPANSION OF IT^VLY 


of its kind. Never before in colonial 
history had a Eui’opean nation sufiered 
a defeat so drastic and complete at the 
hands of the ‘natives’, as the defeat of 
the Italians at Adowa. The Italians 
lost many of their principal officers 
and ten thousand men. Italy had to 
recognize the independence of Abyssinia 
as a result of the treaty with which the 
war came to a close. Italian imperialism 
received a severe blow at Adowa, from 
which it could not recover for a long 
time. 

The only other serious attempt made 
by Italy before 1936 to acquire colonies 
was in 1911, when after thorough pre- 
paration, military and diplomatic, she 
acquired the two Turkish provinces, 
lying east of Tunis, as a result of the 
Turco-Italian War. It was in September, 
1911, that Italy sent a strange ultimatum 
to Turkey declaring that the state of 
disorder and neglect in which Tripoli 
and Cyrenaica are left by Turkey must 


121 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


come to an end, as this was for Italy 
“a vital interest of the very first order.” 
The war that ensued in spite of Turkey’s 
acceptance of all concessions short of 
territorial cession, resulted in the 
conquest of Tripoli and Cyrenaica to 
which the old Roman name of Libya 
was later given by the Italians. Italy 
thus acquired a colony which was large 
in size, but which, instead of bringing 
profits remains to this day, in spite of 
all possible effort, a costly imperial 
luxury. 

This was, in short, the position of 
Italy in the colonial sphere, when the 
world War came in August 1914 . Italy 
at this time was a member of the Triple 
Alliance, but she did not consider herself 
bound to come to the help of the 
Central Powers. Instead she declared 
her neutrality, and she actually remained 
neutral until May, 1915 . 

Italy had her own grievances against 
Austria and Prance, and she wanted to 


122 



THE EXPANSION OP ITALY 


make use of this favourable opportunity. 
She knew that both the parties were 
eager for her support. Salandra, the 
Italian Premier, was determined to wrest 
the utmost advantage from this position. 
“Free from all pre-occupations, prejudice 
and sentiment,” he said, “we must have 
no other thought than exclusive and 
unlimited devotion to our country, to 
Sacro egoismo for Italy.” 

During this period of neutrality the 
Central Powers as well as the Allies 
tried their best, by means of lavish 
promises to purchase Italian support. 
They bid higher and higher for Italian 
favour. In the bargain the principal 
Allied Powers, namely France, Great 
Britain and Eussia, promised more than 
the Germanic Empires. They could well 
afiord to be generous at the expense 
of others. Italy accepted their ofier. 
The bargain was made in London. 

According to the Secret Pact of 
London ( 26th April, 1916 ) the principal 


123 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


Allied Powers made large but very 
definite promises to Italy. They 
swallowed their scruples and promised 
to Italy all territory lying south of 
the Brennero Pass. This was clearly 
in violation of the principle of the 
right of peoples to self-determination. 
It was, however, granted to Italy, for it 
would give her a strategic frontier in 
the north. Trieste, Istrian Peninsula, 
the northern portion of Dalmatia, 
certain islands in the Adriatic and 
Valona (a port of great importance in 
Albania, just opposite the heel of the 
Italian “boot”), all were to be handed 
over to Italy, in the event of victory. 
These gains would have undoubtedly 
made her supreme in the Adriatic. But 
the gain of Italy would have meant 
not only the loss of Austria-BCungary, 
but also of one of the Allies, namely 
Serbia, for whose sake the war had 
primarily begun. Besides these territorial 
gains in Europe, Italy was entitled to 


124 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


compensation in Africa, if either France 
or Great Britain increased their 
possessions in that continent. Italian 
interest in the balance of power in the 
Eastern Mediterranean was also recog- 
nized with regard to Asia Minor. These 
promises, if fulfilled, would have meant 
even more than the achievement of both 
the main objectives of Italian foreign 
policy — the recovery of Italia Irredenta 
and the creation of a colonial empire. 

It was only after these definite 
promises were made to Italy that she 
declared war against the Central Powers. 
Whatever Mr. Lloyd George may now 
say in his War Memoirs, Italian support 
was certainly of some value to the 
Allies. We may well imagine the 
difficulties with which France would have 
been confronted on two sides, had Italy 
joined the Central Powers. 

The Allies emerged victorious from 
the Great War. Italy had joined the 
conffict on a clear understanding. At 

125 





THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


the Peace Conference of Paris the time 
had come for the fulfilment of all those 
promises. But the principal makers of 
peace — Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd 
Q-eorge — found that it was impossible for 
various reason to satisfy Rome. , 

The outcome of the Peace Conference 
came as a great disappointment to Italy. 
Of all the victors she came out of the War 
as perhaps the most disappointed. It is 
true that by the Treaty of Saint Oermain 
Italy obtained one of her two important 
objects, the Brennero frontier. But this 
did not wholly satisfy Italy so far as her 
claims in the Adriatic were concerned ; 
for although her traditional foe, the 
Habsburg Empire, was no more, another 
state, which was perhaps capable of 
doing more harm than the defunct 
Empire, had come into being. Jugoslavia, 
because of her situation and because of 
French influence, which was noticeable 
from the very beginning, was regarded 
by Italy as even a greater danger than 


126 



THE EXPANSION OF ITAX.Y 


the deceased Dual Monarchy, A new 
balance of power was created to the 
great disadvantage of Italy. Moreover, 
what was more important was that 
apart from minor frontier rectifications, 
Italy’s claims with regard to the German 
colonial ’empire and the Turkish 
possessions were totally ignored. In the 
words of Mussolini, “when they came 
round the conference table of that mean 
peace treaty, we got only the crumbs of 
that rich colonial dinner.” 

Fascists are bitter over the outcome 
of the Peace Conference. They blame 
Great Britain and France, particularly 
the latter country for the unfavourable 
peace terms. True, Wilson was also 
opposed to Italian claims. But, so the 
Fascists argue, America was not a party 
to the Pact of London. France, on 
the other hand, made certain precise 
promises and then went back upon her 
word. Hence Italian resentment against 
France. 


127 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


The attitude of France during the 
peace negotiations is also quite under- 
standable. As a result of the Great War 
she had succeeded in crushing the most 
formidable of her opponents. Germany 
was reduced, for the time being at any 
rate, to a second class Power. French 
supremacy on the continent was esta- 
blished. She was not prepared to share 
it, with any other Power, not even with 
an ex-ally and a Latin sister-nation. 
Besides, the repeated declarations with 
regard to the right of peoples to self- 
determination could not be easily 
disregarded by the chief representatives 
of Powers at the Peace Conference. 
The result was disappointment and 
bitterness in Italy. 

Italy had cut rather a poor figure in 
the War ; and when the hostilities came 
to a close, she found herself weak and 
divided. Her former allies were not 
impressed by Italy’s War contribution 
and gave her what they thought she 


128 



THE EXPANSION OF ITAI.Y 

deserved. Italy’s military strength was 
exhausted and her economic system 
shattered, as a result of the War. 
Communist disturbances were common 
and civil war seemed to be coming. She 
was unable to efiect forcibly a redistribu- 
tion of the colonial world. In this 
helpless condition all she could do was 
to protest and wait for the moment when 
she would be able ‘to make her voice 
heard’. 

With Fascism there came a change 
in the status of Italy. Mussolini gave 
his country a strong government which 
it had not known for many a century. 
Never since the fall of Rome had Italy 
had a government of this type. Mussolini 
made a new nation out of the chaotic 
mass that he found in 1922. He comple- 
tely modernized Italy, by eliminating 
many of the evil survivals of mediaeval 
times. Whereas Italy, before the coming 
of Mussolini, was called a great power 
by courtesy, it actually became so only 

129 

9 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


after about a decade of Fascist rule. 
With Fascism Italy entered a new era 
of political importance and economic 
development. It got rid of all mediaeval 
survivals and became united as it had 
never been before. With the attainment 

I 

of unity and power, Italy began once 
more to dream of expansion abroad. 

In a survey of Fascist imperialism 
the psychological factor must be regarded 
as extremely important. It is necessary 
to explain the mentality of a Fascist, his 
attitude towards state and his ideas on 
war and peace. Only then would it be 
possible to estimate correctly the place 
of imperialism in Facist theory. 

The Fascist system of government is 
an autocratic system. It is opposed to 
Liberalism and Democracy and all they 
stand for. And the foreign policy of an 
autocracy — be it an absolute monarchy, 
be it a dictatorship — is as a rule different 
from that of a liberal democracy. An 
autocrat’s psychology is very different 


130 



THE EXPANSION OP ITAEY 


from that of a democrat. Their outlook 
on life diSers. They represent not only 
two types of “political animals,” but two 
types of men. Democracies stand for 
liberty at home. It is only natural that 
they shoifld respect the liberty of other 
peoples. In autocracies, on the other 
hand, people are deprived of their 
individual freedom. How can it be 
expected from such governments that 
they would respect the independence of 
other nations ? In their foreign relations, 
therefore, democracies, as a rule, are 
not inclined towards territorial expansion 
and consequently they stand for peace 
and international understanding. Auto- 
cracies are inclined towards imperialism, 
and therefore they are warlike and 
militarist. 

But this does not mean that 
democracies have never waged wars of 
conquest and have never thought of 
building up empires, or autocracies have 
never served the cause of peace. Such 


131 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


an assumption will not be in conformity 
with historical truth. The two greatest 
imperialist nations of our own time — 
Great Britain and France — are demo- 
cracies. What is claimed, however, is 
not that democracies have never been 
imperialist and warlike, and autocracies 
never peaceful ; it is only intended to 
point out the main tendency in each of 
these systems of government. 

The domestic politics of democracies 
are made up of too many checks and 
balances, too many discussions and 
rmderstandings, too many concessions 
and compromises and therefore in 
democracies there is a tendency to justify 
even the aggressive and imperialistic 
policy through what has been termed 
a “rational-pacifistic ideology.’' ' It is 
necessary for a democracy to charac- 
terize its every war as a war of defence. 
This is something which an autocracy, 
because of its belief in militarism and 

I. Kelsen, Staatrform und Weltanschauung. 

132 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


in the heroic method, does not at all 
require. An autocracy would rather 
glorify war, and would take pride in 
subduing other peoples. 

Fascist Italy, true to the autocratic 
type, is intensely nationalist i it opposes 
internationalism ; it ridicules pacifism ; 
it believes in the inevitability and even 
in the desirability of War. Naturally 
it cannot be but imperialist. Says 
Mussolini : “Humanity is still and always 
has been an abstraction of time and 
space ; men are still not brothers, do not 
want to be and evidently cannot be. 
Peace is hence absurd, or rather it is a 
pause in war... Man will continue to be, 
wolf among wolves for a bit of land, for a 
trickle of water, for a crumb of bread, for 
a woman’s kiss, for a necessity or a 
caprice...’’ And again, “Internationalism 
is an article of luxury, good for the 
aristocracies of art, banking, industry 
and snobbish imbecility... at bottom inter- 
nationalism is an absurd fable.” 


133 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


On the other hand, Mussolini has 
many good things to say of nationalism, 
militarism and war. According to him, 
as has been pointed out, war is not only 
inevitable, it is desirable. “Struggle,” he 
says, and it is very typical of Mussolini, 
“is the origin of all things, for life is full 
of contrasts : there is love and hatred, 
white and black, day and night, good 
and evil ; and until these contrasts are 
reduced to an equilibrium struggle will 
always remain at the root of human 
nature, like a supreme fatality. And on 

the whole it is well that it is so the 

day in which there should be no more 
strife would be a day of melancholy, of 
the end of things, of ruin.” ' 

Not long ago Mussolini declared in 
a speech that “Italy was a military, 
militarist, and warlike nation.’” Unfor- 
tunately for themselves some of the 

1, Mussolini, Fascism ; Political and Social Doctrine, 

2. In a speech at the army manoeuvres, August 24^ 

I934‘ 


134 



THE EXPANSION OP ITAEY 


Italian newspapers left out the word 
‘militarist’ while reporting the speech 
in their columns. Mussolini was furious 
over this unpardonable omission. In 
an article in Popolo d’ Italia, which 
it was confidently asserted came from 
the pen oi the Duce himself, it was said : 
“Evidently this is like a glass of castor 
oil to weak stomachs, but there cannot 
be any weak stomachs in the ranks of 
the Fascist party. We say, we repeat, 
we cry out that Fascist Italy must be 
militarist. Militarist is the nation that 
subordinates to military necessities every- 
thing else of the material and moral life 
of the individual as well as of the 
community.” 

Mussolini informs the world without 
the least hesitation that he does not 
believe that perpetual peace is possible 
or desirable, and that the fundamental 
virtues of man are fully revealed only in 
bloodstained struggles.* In the words of 

I. Speech in the Chamber of Deputies, May 20, 1934. 

135 




THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 

another Fascist, “the State displays in 
war its own strength.”' 

These ideas are the natural outcome 
of the Fascist conception of state and 
particularly of sovereignty. Although 
modern writers have recognized that 
the theory of sovereignty must be 
thoroughly revised because nations have 
become so dependent politically and 
economically upon one another, that the 
idea of complete independence of each 
must be considered as wholly inappli- 
cable to the present circumstances, 
Fascism sticks to the old conception of 
sovereignty. 

“There is no value outside and above 
the state.” “As to its own political 
interests, be these preservation or expan- 
sion, every state is its own judge, 
unique and without appeal. There 
is nothing superior to the State.” Again, 
“The two ideas of sovereignty and 

I, G. Gentile, quoted by ''Elwin", Fascism at Work, 

p. 245. 


136 




THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


limitation exclude one another. The 
state as sovereignty and power is abso- 
lute ; it is beyond law.” These are the 
views of several representative Fascist 
authorities on state and sovereignty.* 
This claijoi to absolute sovereignty, and 
denial of the idea of international law 
must necessarily lead to war. An exalted 
view of sovereignty and State and the 
love of war are closely connected 
with imperialism and aggressive policy 
abroad. 

Mussolini’s Italy is imperialist. Accor- 
ding to the Duce — and whose word is 
more authoritative in the authoritarian 
state ? — “Imperialism is the eternal 

and immutable law of life. At bottom 
it is but the need, the desire and the 
will for expansion which every living, 
healthy individual or people has in itself.” 

This was, however, written in 1919 
when Mussolini had not yet seized the 
reins of power. But we have many such 

I. ibid> p. 244 f. 


137 




THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


fresh examples. In 1932, for instance, 
he wrote in an article on the theory of 
Fascism in the Enciclopedia Jtaliana : 
“For Fascism the growth of empire, that 
is to say the expansion of the nation, 
is an essential manifestation of vitality 
and its opposite a sign of decadence. 
Peoples which are rising or rising after 
a period of decadence, are always impe- 
rialist ; any renunciation is a sign of 
decay and death.” In a pamphlet 

he says : “ The imperialistic urge 

is an elementary force of our human 

nature like the will-to-power itself 

In each and every guise it is symptomatic 
of man’s quenchless vitality... No sooner 
is one born than the “imperialist” within 
presses his claim... That clamorous 
force ceases only with death itself.” ' 

Luigi Villari, a leading Fascist 
theorist, considers the expansion of Italy 
as something inevitable. “Every great 
country,” he writes, “every active people 

I. Mussolini, What kind of Man I am t 


138 




THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


naturally tends to expand. Expansion 
may assume many forms, but is in itself 
no novelty. It has existed from time 
immemorial, and is neither good nor 
evil, but inevitable.” ' 

The Fascists, in their imperialist 
outlook, have been greatly influenced 
by the Eoman tradition. The Fascists 
turn their eyes to their distant past, 
for inspiration for the future. They 
believe in the “universal mission of Rome 
for the salvation and greatness of human 
civilisation,” and “in the fatality and 
in the pre-fixed value of the Roman 
Empire’. In Fascism, they believe, 
Imperial Rome is reborn. They identify 
the Roman ideal, with Fascism ; and 
Mussolini regards himself as a second 
Julius Csesar. It is the destiny of Rome 
to become once more not only the 

1. Villari, The Expansion of Italy. 

2. Ex-Service Volunteers’ ''Profession of Faith in the 
Universality of Rome,” quoted by Munro, From Fascism 
to World Power, p. 2pj. 


139 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


fountain of world thought, but the 
capital of a great empire. 

The ancient Roman Empire began 
in Africa. In the third century B.C., 
as a result of two great Punic wars, 
Rome became the dominant power in 
the Mediterranean basin. Mussolini and 
the Fascists perhaps thought “why should 
the Second Roman Empire not begin in 
Africa, with the Abyssinian expedi- 
tion ?” 

It is true that on many occasions 
Mussolini attempted to calm international 
public opinion by declaring that the 
Fascists did not aim at subjugating 
other peoples, and that their imperialism 
was of a different type, and “was not 
dangerous for other nations.” Other 
countries, assured Mussolini, need not be 
afraid of Fascist imperialism, because it 
was “moral and spiritual.” “An empire 

can be thought of as a nation which 

directly or indirectly guides other nations 
— without the need of conquering a 


140 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


single mile of territory.” ' In another 
place Mussolini asserted that “there can 
be imperialism without any empire”. But 
these pronouncements were obviously 
meant for foreign consumption. 

Althojigh the imperialist idea has, 
from the very beginning, occupied a 
prominent place in Fascist theory, 
Mussolini, until 1936, avoided reference 
to particular countries as potential fields 
for Italian expansion. He vaguely 
referred to Asia and Africa as ‘the 
historic objectives of Italy’, but he 
did not mention Abyssinia particularly, 
until Italy’s military preparations were 
well advanced. 

It was only in May, 1936, that 
Mussolini referred to the projected 
campaign in East Africa in these words : 
“I have reached the point for which you, 
my comrades, have, I am sure, been 
waiting. You have to consider the group 
of problems of which I have given you 

1 . Mussolini in Enciclopedia Italiana. 


141 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


a survey, in relation to what may happen 
in East Africa and in relation to the 
attitudes States may take up when the 
time comes for them to show us a real 
friendship, not a superficial one based 
on words alone. But, in the first place 
we must rely upon ourselves.” ' 

Shortly afterwards Mussolini became 
even more explicit. In defiance of world 
opinion, he declared his uncompromising 
policy towards Abyssinia in June, 1935 : 
■“We have old and new scores to pay 
ofi ; we shall pay them oS. We shall 
pay no attention to what may be said 
beyond our frontiers, because the judges 
of our interest, the guarantors of our 
future, are ourselves and ourselves 
only.” 

In July he adopted a more aggressive 
tone : “Our decision is irrevocable. There 
can be no turning back. Government 
and nation are now engaged in a conflict 

I. Wheeler-Bennett, Documents on International 
Affairs^ (1935)* vol. I, p. 176 . 


142 



THE EXPANSION OP ITALY 


which they have decided to carry on to 
the bitter end. The Italians have always 
thrashed black people in warfare. The 
defeat at Adowa was an exception”.' 

On October 2, a day before the 
outbreak of hostilities, Mussolini broad- 
cast a most offensive speech in which he 
made no secret of the fact that the aim 
of the Fascist government was but one, 
viz. colonial expansion. “For many 
months,” he said, “the wheel of 
destiny under the impulse of our calm 
determination moves towards a goal. In 
this last hour the rhythm has become 

faster and cannot now be stopped 

It is not only an army that marches 
towards its goal, but 44 million Italians 
who are marching in unison with this 
army, because an attempt is being made 
to commit the blackest injustice against 
them, that of refusing them a little place 
in the sun.”' 


I. Quoted by Emile Burns, Abyssinia and Italy, 22. 
a. ibid. 


143 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRB 


Abyssinia seemed to be the ideal 
object for the first great imperialist 
adventure of Fascist Italy. Where else 
could Mussolini find a more suitable field 
for expansion and an easier prey to 
Italian might. 

For reasons of geography, Asia minor 
and Arabia, apart from Africa, attract 
the attention of Imperialist Italy. These 
are the territories, in which Italy, ever 
since her Unification, has taken a good 
deal of interest. The Turkey of Mustafa 
Kemal, however, is somewhat difierent 
from the decaying Ottoman Empire of 
pre-War days. Even dictators are not 
so reckless •, even autocrats do not go 
to war unless victory seems probable. 

As regards Arabia, the best territories 
came under British or French control 
after the World War. Syria and Pales- 
tine, are not available without war with 
France and Britain. Italy has continu- 
ously claimed these two countries. But it 
was not to be expected that either 


144 





Italy in Africa 


tiiiUl 




THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


France or Britain would, of its own free 
will, withdraw from there and present 
Italy with a mandate. 

Italy, in recent years, tried to extend 
her influence in the Arabian peninsula 
by her active support of the Imam of 
Yemen against Ibn-i-Saud, who in his 
turn was supported by Grreat Britain. 
The War of 1934 between the two Arab 
rulers showed that Italy had backed the 
wrong horse. With the defeat of the 
Imam of Yemen and his acceptance of 
unfavourable terms Fascist penetration 
of Arabia came to an abrupt end.' 

Africa alone was thus left, and here 
again only those territories which were 
not directly or indirectly under the 
control of powerful states or their 
proteges. Such territories were but two, 
Abyssinia and Liberia ; and of the two 
Abyssinia was by far the larger, richer 


I. The history of this war may be read in Toynbee, 
Survey of International Affairs ( 1934 ), or in Epstein, 
Annual Register (1934). 


10 


145 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIBB 


and more suitable for colonization. 
Besides, unlike Liberia, it was adjacent to 
Italian possessions. 

Abyssinia or Ethiopia, as it used to 
be officially called, is a vast country, 
three times as large as Italy. Its area 
is, at a conservative estimate, 350,000 sq. 
miles.' As regards its population, 
reliable and exact figures are not 
available and it may be anything 
between five and ten million. The 
Statesman's Year Booh considers 6,600,000 
as a reasonably correct figure. 

Topographically and climatically 
Ethiopia may be divided into three 
distinct parts. A large area in the East 
consists of deserts where the climate is 
unbearably hot and water very scarce. 
It is totally unfit for cultivation and the 
question of European colonization in this 
area does not arise. Then there are 
tropical areas, lying in the North, West 
and South which, though fertile, are very 

I. Statesman’s Year Book ( 1936 ). 


146 




THE EXPANSION OP ITALY 


malarial and unhealthy, the climate 
being extremely damp. In the middle is 
the high plateaux which in some places 
rises to an altitude of about 10,000 feet. 
Here the climate is dry. This portion of 
Ethiopia is^suitable for the settlement of 
Europeans. 

As yet there is no exact knowledge 
about the natural resources of the 
country, but they are believed to be 
considerable. The land is very suitable 
for the cultivation of cofiee, cereals, 
beans and cotton. Because of the 
undeveloped state of the country, of 
primitive agricultural methods and of 
the feudal system, production of agricul- 
tural commodities has not been large. 
The Italians hope to increase the agricul- 
tural output with the help of advanced 
and scientific methods of agriculture, 
and thereby make Italy independent of 
foreign imports in most of the agricultural 
commodities. 

It is impossible to estimate the 


147 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


mineral wealth of Abyssinia, Exaggera- 
ted stories are told about the quantities 
of precious metals hidden in this country. 
This much is certain, however, that gold 
and platinum are found in Abyssinia in 
fairly large quantities. As to whether 
petroleum may be found there or not, 
opinions difier. 

Apart from economic considerations, 
Italy believes in her civilizing mission. 
Abyssinia where life is “brutish, nasty and 
short,” has consistently refused European 
“help” in the work of civilization because 
she was always suspicious about the real 
motives of the European powers. As 
late as 1865, Negus Theodore II told the 
French representative : 

“1 know the tactics of European 
Governments when they desire to acquire 
an Eastern State. First they send out 
missionaries, then consuls to support the 
missionaries, then battalians to support 
the consuls. I am not a rajah of Hindu- 
sthan to be made a mock of in that way : 


148 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


I prefer to have to deal with the 
battalians right away”.' 

But Italy is anxious to make her 
contribution to civilisation, to abolish 
slave-traffic-king and slave-owning, and 
to convert a primitive and feudal people 
into an advanced nation. 

“The War”, in the words of Signor 
Rossini, one of the big men of Fascism, 
“perhaps has economic reasons. But 
chiefly the reasons are moral and 
political. France did not acquire colonies 
because she was overpopulated. Nor did 
England. Economic problems are impor- 
tant, but nations cannot live solely on 
economic considerations. Italy can make 
a new contribution to civilisation. A new 
regime could certainly improve conditions 
in Abyssinia. Mussolini has created a 
new nation which has a right to contri- 
bute towards civilisation”. ’ 


1. Quoted by L. S. Woolf, Empire and Commerce in 
Africa^ p. 145. 

2, New Statesman and Nation, January 4, 1936, p. 7, 

149 




THE QUEST FOB EMPIEE 


National Prestige also demands that 
Italy must possess a first class empire. 
There is no better way of asserting her 
greatness. 

Fascist Italy had been waiting for 
the day when her military preparations 
would be complete and the international 
situation suitable for an imperialist 
adventure. Long ago Mussolini had 
prophesied : “Between 1935 and 1940, 
when we shall reach the crucial point in 
European history, we shall be able to 
make our voice heard and see at last our 
rights acknowledged.” 

At last that time had come. How 
amazingly correct was Mussolini’s predic- 
tion. Not only was Italy now well 
prepared for war, but the international 
situation was very favourable. 

Two great Powers apart from Italy 
have been interested in Abyssinia and 
the adjacent territories for a long time. 
The first European Power to interest 
itself in this part of Africa was Prance. 


150 



THE EXPANSION OF FTALY 


French capital began to penetrate 
Egypt in 1860’s ; and France was the 
first European country to establish a 
foothold on the coast between the 
Red Sea and Abyssinia in 1862, which 
came to be known as French Somaliland. 
The dreiJm of the French imperialists 
was to have an Empire so extensive as 
to cover practically the whole of Africa 
north of the equator. 

Great Britain, after 1875, when 
Disraeli purchased 176,602 shares of the 
Suez Canal Company from the Khedive, 
became vitally interested in this region. 
The purchase of the shares was followed 
by British intervention in Egyptian 
finance, which, in its turn, led to the 
occupation of that country in 1882. 
By 1898 the British had also firmly 
established themselves in the Soudan. 
But the prosperity of Egypt and Soudan 
depended on the Nile and the Nile had 
its main source in Abyssinia. In 1884 
Great Britain seized the strip of coast 


151 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


in the east of Abyssinia, which was to 
develop into British Somaliland. Shortly 
afterwards Italy, as we already know, 
acquired not only Eritrea but the 
territory, called Italian Somaliland. 

The encirclement of Abyssinia was 
now complete. Since this time^Abyssinia 
has naturally attracted the attention of 
the governments of Great Britain, France 
and Italy. And if Abyssinia retained 
her independence, until recently, it was 
because the three powers could not agree 
among themselves about the division of 
the estates after her demise. Even after 
the whole of the African continent had 
been divided among European powers, 
Abyssinia continued to enjoy indepen- 
dence. 

It is not necessary to go through the 
whole history of the various attempts 
made in the past to partition Abyssinia. 
Until 1904, when Franco-British under- 
standing was established. Great Britain 
seriously thought of dividing the country 


162 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


into British and Italian spheres of 
influence. By the agreements of 1891 
and 1894 Great Britain recognized a 
large part of Abyssinia as an Italian 
sphere of influence. France was to be 
excluded from all share in the spoils. 
She, therefore, came to the help of 
Abyssinia against Italy and the result 
was the disaster of Adowa in 1896, which 
was followed by a marked increase of 
French influence in Abyssinia. 

In 1906, when Great Britain and 
France had already come to an under- 
standing among themselves and when 
they were afraid of Germany’s colonial 
plans, yet another agreement was 
concluded between Great Britain, France 
and Italy, The three Powers guaranteed 
the territorial status quo of Abyssinia, 
and promised joint support in their 
economic penetration of the country. 
Special interest of every one of these 
Powers was mutually recognized. But 
owing to the critical international 


153 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


situation, Abyssinia succeeded in holding 
out against making any far-reaching 
economic concessions to these nations. 

After the World War, the rift between 
France and Great Britain once more 
grew deep. In spite of the Pact of 
London, Italy had been left '^'out when 
the redistribution of Africa took place 
after the War. Both the countries. 
Prance and Italy, despite their mutual 
rivelry, now began to oppose British 
penetration of Abyssinia. They encour- 
aged the Negus in his policy of resisting 
the extension of British influence. They 
supported Abyssinia’s entry into the 
League of Nations in 1923. The co-oper- 
ation between Prance and Italy, however, 
could not last long, based as it was not 
on a sincere desire to help a weak country 
but on interests which could not be 
easily reconciled. Great Britain succeed- 
ed in winning over Italy to her side. 
The two countries once more agreed in 
1926 to recognize each other’s special 


154 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


interests in Abyssinia, and once more 
France proved to be the great stumbling 
block in the execution of their plan. 

In 1928 an independent move was 
made by Italy. A new treaty of friend- 
ship was concluded between Abyssinia 
and Italy. Both the parties undertook 
to settle all disputes that might arise by 
peaceful means and “without having 
recourse to armed force.” 

The story of Abyssinia’s relations with 
the European countries shows clearly that 
it was primarily France which had so far 
prevented Abyssinia from becoming a 
vassal of Italy and Great Britain. But 
in January 1936, the policy of France 
underwent a radical change. Indeed 
ever since January 1933, when the Nazi 
regime was established in Germany, the 
hostility between Prance and Italy 
seemed to be giving place to a better 
understanding between the two Latin 
nations. This was a very important 
change in inter-European relations. 


155 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


France has always been afraid of 
Germany ; but she became particularly 
nervous after Hitler siezed the reins of 
power. Hitler’s attitude towards France 
was well-known. She became alarmed at 
the marvellous recovery of Germany and 
her rearmament on an enormcjus scale. 
France seemed to be willing to sacrifice 
her interests in the colonial world in face 
of a serious threat nearer home. 

Italy on her side, had been generally 
in sympathy with Germany throughout 
the post- War period. Mussolini might 
have welcomed the dictatorship of Hitler, 
for more than one reason. Fascism and 
National Socialism were so alike, and 
Hitler such a great admirer of Mussolini 
that under ordinary circumstances this 
change in Germany should have resulted 
in even greater friendship between the 
two countries. But there was one item 
in the programme of Hitler which 
disturbed Mussolini’s peace of mind. 
Austro-German Union was one of the 


156 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


avowed aims of the Nazis. Italy, 
however, could not tolerate the presence 
of such a formidable state on her own 
borders, which, at a future date, might 
be in a position to take away from her 
what shejiad achieved as a result of the 
Great War. How could Mussolini believe 
that Nazi Germany, once she had 
absorbed Austria, would not claim the 
South Tyrol. And if Germany had the 
South Tyrol, not only would the indus- 
trial backbone of Italy be threatened, 
but Trieste, Fiume and the whole of 
Adriatic would be at her mercy. 

It was this factor which brought Italy 
and France nearer each other. 

In January, 1935, the Rome Pact was 
concluded, by which the two govern- 
ments showed a united front in Europe 
and settled their differences in Africa. 
In regard to Austria, they undertook to 
consult each other in case the indepen- 
dence of that country should be menaced. 
In the colonial sphere, frontier rectifi- 


157 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


cations were made in favour of Italy. 
Territories, considerable in size, though 
not of much economic value, were added 
to Libya and Eritrea. Italy also received 
2,500 shares in the Jibouti-Addis Ababa 
railway. Moreover, France ^ granted 
certain concessions to the Italians living 
in Tunis.' All these concessions were 
made because of Hitler. France, as a 
result of the rapprochement with Italy, 
felt secure about her "Alpine frontiers.” 
She could now concentrate her attention 
on the north-east. 

Abyssinia as such was not mentioned 
in the Rome Pact. Later on it was 
alleged that according to certain articles 
that were kept secret, France had given 
Italy a carte blanche with regard to 
Abyssinia. Be it as it may, Italy’s 
subsequent aggressive policy and the 
French attitude towards it showed 


I. The agreement is given in Wheeler- Bennett, 
Documents on International Affairs^ 193S1 vol. i. 


158 



THE EXPANSION OF ITAXiY 


clearly that France was not going to 
interfere with the plans of Mussolini. 

Italy blamed Abyssinia for a policy 
of open antagonism towards Italy. 
Italians have pointed out that Italy had 
tried her best to carry out a policy of 
co-operation and good neighbourliness 
with Abyssinia, but the Negus taking 
advantage of this policy made prepara- 
tions for war with Italy and seriously 
thought of attacking Italian possessions 
in East Africa.' A proposition difficult 
to believe. But the fact cannot be denied 
that during the post-War period, par- 
ticularly during the last few years, the 
relations between the two countries were 
strained due to frontier incidents that 
occurred in rapid succession. 

The most serious incident was that 
which occurred at Wal-Wal on the 6th 
December, 1934.’ While there is no 

1. R. Forges- Davanzati in Current History ^ October, 

1935 - 

2, American Journal of International Lavjy January 
1936, for a review of the Wal-Wal incident by Potter. 


159 



THE QTJEST FOB EMPIRE 


doubt that Wal-Wal, even according to 
Italian maps, published before the inci- 
dent, was placed within Abyssinian 
territory, it is equally true that Italians 
had been in actual possession of the wells 
for some years. There had been a con- 
troversy as regards the frontier between 
Italian Somaliland and Ogaden, which 
is common in desert regions. On the 6th 
of December Abyssinian troops attacked 
the Italians, who withdrew, only to 
attack the next day when reinforcements 
had arrived. The Abyssinians incurred 
severe losses. 

When shortly afterwards the Italian 
Government forwarded to the Negus a 
Note of protest in connection with this 
incident, he requested them to settle the 
dispute by means of arbitration, which 
would be in accordance with Article 6 of 
the Treaty of 1928, concluded between 
Italy and Ethiopia. But Mussolini re- 
fused to accept this suggestion. Abyssinia 
appealed on January 15, 1935, to the 


160 



THE EXPANSION OF TTAXY 

Council of the League of Nations under 
Article 15 of the Covenant. A fresh appeal 
was made by the Abyssinian Government 
on March 17. The Council in the 
meantime devoted its efforts to commit- 
ting the parties to settle the dispute 
among th'jmselves and finally, on 
August 3, secured the consent of the 
parties to refer the matter to an arbitral 
tribunal. The Commission gave its 
award on September 3. It found neither 
party responsible for this incident. But 
the award did not satisfy Italy. 

On September 6, 1936, the Council of 
the League appointed a Committee of 
Five, consisting of the representatives of 
Great Britain, France, Spain, Poland and 
Turkey, to make a general examination 
of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute and to 
seek a pacific settlement in accordance 
with Article 16 of the Covenant. The 
task entrusted to the Committee was not 
an easy one •, and after about a fortnight 
it confessed its failure. 

161 

11 



THE QXJEST FOE EMPIRE 


Then the Council decided to prepare a 
report, which should include “a state- 
ment of the facts of the dispute and the 
recommendations which are deemed just 
and proper in regard thereto.” A Com- 
mittee of the Council consisting of all its 
members, with the exception' of Italy, 
was entrusted with this task. But 
before the report of this Committee was 
ready on October 6, hostilities had 
already broken out. 

On October 3rd, 1936, began the 
Italo- Abyssinian War with the bombard- 
ment by Italian areoplanes of Adowa 
and Adigrat, and the advance of Italian 
troops from Eritrea. The hostilities 
began without any regular declaration of 
war, which seems to have become the 
usual custom nowadays. The reason 
for the invasion, given by the Italian 
Government, in a communique, was : 
‘Self-defence’. It was “in order to repel 
the imminent Abyssinian threat” that the 
Italian troops had crossed the frontier. 


162 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


What was this “imminent Abyssinian 
threat” ? Obviously the mobilization order 
issued by the Negus. But it is no secret 
that the order was given after Italy had 
made the most thorough preparations for 
the War foi; more than seven months, after 
large and well equipped Italian forces had 
gathered on Abyssinian frontiers and 
were just waiting for orders from the 
Duce to strike, and after the most 
modem weapons of destruction had been 
pouring into Eritrea and Italian Somali- 
land for a considerable time. 

From the very beginning it was an 
unequal fight. The Abyssinian troops, ill 
fed, ill equipped and without any regular 
training could not indefinitely resist the 
great military power of Italy, thoroughly 
reorganized under the Fascist regime. 
On one side there were only rifles, many 
of them as old as the Franco- Prussian 
War of 1870-71, on the other most modem 
weapons of warfare, tanks and areoplanes 
and poison gas and all that modem science 


163 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


has invented for the destruction of man. 
The Abyssinian army was organized on 
a feudal basis, each tribe following its 
own local chieftain in battle, and for 
this reason alone it could not stand 
against the Fascist war machine, com- 
pletely centralized, responsible to one 
person, and moving like one man. 

Moreover, in spite of this overwhelming 
superiority, Italy adopted, particularly 
when she saw that the progress was slow, 
all possible means, fair and unfair, of 
crushing the enemy. Where Italian 
arms failed, Italian money succeeded. 
Local chiefs were bribed and won over. 
Italy, which had signed the Geneva 
Convention of 1929, used poison gas in 
warfare and bombarded hospitals. 

Although the War continues in a 
sense to the time of writing (December 
1936), for all practical purposes Italy 
became the mistress of Abyssinia when 
the Emperor fled to Palestine (May 1, 
1936), from where he proceeded to 


164 



THE EXPANSION OP ITALY 


England, and when Addis Ababa fell, 
(May 6, 1936). A brave but primitive 
people after a desperate fight for the 
preservation of their independence, which 
lasted for seven months, had no option 
but to surrender before a superior 
organization and technique. 

The League failed in preventing the 
outbreak of war between Italy and 
Abyssinia. It also failed in punishing 
the aggressor adequately, and bringing 
the war to an early end. But it does not 
mean that beyond declaring Italy as the 
aggressor, it did nothing, as in the case 
of the Sino- Japanese War. For the first 
time in its history the League decided 
to impose economic sanctions against 
Italy. It appointed several committees 
to formulate in detail and co-ordinate 
the economic sanctions against the 
Covenant-breaking State. 

The sanctions actually imposed may 
be divided into four categories : 1. Prohi- 
bition of the export of arms, ammunition 


166 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


and implements of war not only to Italy 
but to Abyssinia as well, 2. Certain 
financial measures particularly the 
stopping of loans and banking credits to 
Italy, 3. prohibition of importation of 
Italian goods, and 4. embargo on 
certain exports to Italy/ ^ 

The sanctions were adopted not only 
because of British influence but because 
the smaller Powers wanted to test the 
system of collective security. They 
wanted to prove that aggression did not 
pay. Had sanctions proved to be really 
effective, the weaker States would have 
been relieved of their great anxiety for 
the future. 

But unfortunately the system of sanc- 
tions was not given a fair trial. The 

1. Wheeler-Bennett promises to give US all the relevant 
documents connected with the Italo-Abyssinian War in the 
second volume of Documents on International Affairs (1935). 
At present we have to collect this information from numerous 
publications of the League of Nations. Some of the 
Journals have also published a large number of original 
documents. 


166 



THE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


sanctions came a bit too late and even 
when they were imposed, the League 
carefully avoided the embargo on oil, 
which alone might have turned the 
tables. On the whole it can be said 
that the League handled the Abyssinian 
question in such a way as to lend itself 
into a ludicrous mess. 

The League as an organization, the 
primary purpose of which was to promote 
world peace and prevent war, is dead. 
It failed in checking aggression and in 
saving a country which relied on it to the 
last. Indeed it would be no exaggeration 
to say that but for the ineffective 
interference of the League, we would 
still have at least a semi-independent 
Abyssinia. 

That the Italo- Abyssinian War had a 
marked effect on Italo-British relations 
goes witout saying. Great Britain has 
become thoroughly alarmed at what has 
happened. In the past, as we have seen, 
she had been encouraging Italy in her 


167 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


colonial ambitions, because Italy was 
weak and was not considered to be a 
potential enemy. But the Italy of 
Mussolini is a difierent proposition. It is 
doubtful whether Italy will be satisfied 
with the conquest of Abyssinia. Perhaps 
Fascism will have to seek new goals — 
Egypt, Palestine and Yemen, if not 
India ! Great Britain has yielded Abyssi- 
nia without resistance, and has thereby 
encouraged Mussolini. But the “historic 
objectives” of Italy are two : Asia and 
Africa. One objective is at least partially 
realised. What about the second ? 

Great Britain’s interest in Abyssinia 
is great, but her interest in the 
Mediterranean and the Red Sea is even 
greater. Italy’s hold of Abyssinia may 
come to mean her control of this vital 
line of communication, to which Great 
Britain cannot obviously be indifierent. 
When Mussolini declared, in November 
1936,' that the Mediterranean was Italy's 

1. Speech at Milan. 


168 


IHE EXPANSION OF ITALY 


life and he threatened Great Britain that 
unless she recognized Italy’s conquest of 
Abyssinia, and “respected our rights” she 
might have to meet with difficulties in 
the “Sea of Rome,” the British Foreign 
Secretar;^ promptly replied that to 
Britain the Mediterranean was not merely 
a short cut from one part of the Empire 
to another, but “an arterial route.” 
“Freedom of communications in the 
Mediterranean,” he went on, “was of 
vital interest to the British Common- 
wealth.” ' 

Even France would now probably 
take a very difierent view of Fascist 
schemes of colonial expansion. She 
tolerated the annexation of Abyssinia 
by Italy because perhaps she felt that 
it was the price which she had to pay 
for Italian co-operation in Europe. The 
Franco-Italian entente, however, is not 
yet in sight. Mussolini played his diplo- 


1. Mr. Eden in the House of Commons. 


169 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


matic cards very well indeed. But that 
France would be duped again is difficult 
to believe. 

It is unlikely that any future attempt 
to extend the empire of Italy will go 
imchallenged. 


170 



CHAPTER ni 


THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 




The problem of Germany’s expansion 
has two distinct aspects : Colonial and 
Continental. Germany is demanding^ 
not only the restoration of her old colo- 
nies, but she is also looking with covetous 
eyes on her eastern neighbours. We shall 
try to understand both these aspects of 
German expansionist policy. 

The colonial history of Germany is a 
history of only thirty years — 1884 to 1914. 
During these three decades Germany 
demanded a place in the sun, acquired 
it and lost it. 

But although German colonial history 
began as late as 1884, the German people 
were not without colonial traditions. 
They possessed considerable experience 
of exploration and settlement. In the 
Middle Ages their traders and settlera 
were extending German influence both 
by land and by sea. The Hanseatie 
League established trading stations in 
the Baltic and North Sea ports. Though 

173 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


in the Age of Discovery the Germans 
did not take a prominent part in explo- 
ration, due largely to intern al conflicts 
and geographical situation, yet their con- 
tribution was not altogether negligible'. 
In the later part of the modern age, 
specially during the nineteenth century, 
German explorers did a good deal of 
work for foreign countries, and as regards 
-emigration it has been estimated that 
several million people from the Germanic 
states went to America. German mis- 
sions, trade and shipping were powerful 
factors in the extension of influence 
overseas. 

It was in the nineteenth century 
that Germany gradually became an 
industrialist state. With the industria- 
lization of Germany it was natural 
that the Germans should become 
interested in colonies. Many German 
writers prepared plans for the establish- 
ment of colonies. Influential publicists 

I. Schafer, KolonialgeschichU, vol. ii. 


174 




THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


became the champions of imperialism. 
Friedrich List, the famous German 
economist, wrote in 1841 : “Colonies are 
the best means of developing manu- 
factures, export and import trade and 
finally a respectable navy.” Treitschke, 
the most prominent of those historians 
who did so much to stimulate German 
nationalism, employed his powerful pen 
in the service of imperialism. 

The establishment of German imity in 
1871 gave a new impetus to the demand 
for colonies. A book, '^Bedarf Deutsch- 
land der Kolonien T*, (Does Germany 
require colonies ?), was written by Fabri 
and published in 1879. The book was 
destined to influence German opinion as 
few books have done. Fabri criticized 
German emigration to America which he 
considered as an ominous symptom of an 
economic crisis, and pleaded for the 
establishment of a colonial empire which 
would provide Germany with markets 
for her goods, fields of investment for 


176 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


her capital and outlets for her surplus 
population. Fabri also suggested the 
method of acquiring colonies. He 
thought that commercial penetration 
should come first and then the flag 
should follow the trader. 

Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden w/is another 
prominent propagandist. He wrote a 
large number of books on the necessity 
of German expansion, of which his 
Studien uher West-Afrika (1879) and 
Deutsche Kolonisation (1881) are impor- 
tant. He exhorted his fellow-countrymen 
to think “imperially*'. In 1879 Ernst von 
Weber published an article in which he 
urged the German Government to obtain 
Delagoa Bay from Portugal and to 
encourage German emigration to Trans- 
vaal, and to acquire gradually an 
imperial possession, extending to the 
Zambesi. About the same time Treit- 
schke wrote : In the South of Africa 
circumstances are decidedly favourable 
to us. English colonial policy, which 


176 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 

has been successful everywhere else, 
has not succeeded in the Cape. The 
civilization which exists there is Teu- 
tonic, is Dutch. If our Empire has the 
courage to follow an independent colonial 
policy with determination, a collision 
between our interests and those of 
England is unavoidable.”' 

Missionary societies also participated 
in the propaganda. Not only was Fabri 
an inspector of the Barmen Rhine Mission 
which had established many centres in 
South-West Africa, but the Grerman 
missionaries in general felt the need of 
governmental protection and demanded it. 

The arguments of the imperialists 
had little efiect on Bismarck, and for a 
long time he resisted the temptation to 
establish a colonial empire. 

The architect of the new Reich was 
perfectly aware of its weak points. The 
central idea of his policy was to conso- 
lidate what had been achieved. He 

I. Quoted by Dawson, The German Empire, vol. ii, p. 178. 

177 


12 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


sought only security and the preservation 
of status quo. He knew France would 
take the earliest opportunity to undo 
the work of 1871. It was necessary 
to be on good terms with Britain. More- 
over, he felt that the building up of a 
colonial empire was bound to be a costly 
afiair, both in men and money, and 
Germany in the then stage of her 
development could not afford it. He 
declared that “for Germany to acquire 
colonies would be like a poverty-stricken 
Polish nobleman providing himself with 
silks and sables when he needed shirts.” 
Bismarck was exclusively interested in 
Hurope. Even in an industrial age he 
wished to follow the maxim of Frederick 
the Great who had said: “All distant 
possessions are a burden to the State. 
A village on the frontier is worth more 
than a principality two hundred and 
fifty miles away.” 

For a few years after the establish- 
ment of the German Empire Bismarck 


178 



THE EXPANSION OP GEBMANY 


continued to oppose colonial expansion. 
He argued somewhat like this. Colonies 
could not be acquired, and if acquired, 
could not be retained without a big navy. 
A big navy would divert money from the 
army, which he considered to be much 
more necessary for the protection of the 
Fatherland. Besides, what was even 
more important, this would antagonize 
Great Britain, a situation which he was 
determined to avoid. During the period 
of his Chancellorship he took all pains 
to cultivate the friendship of Great 
Britain. And he knew well that German 
colonial and naval expansion was bound 
to arouse the hostility of the British, 
He thought it advisable, therefore, that 
Germany should remain a land power, 
and not challenge British supremacy on 
sea. He was sure that there could be 
“no war between a land rat and a water 
rat.” He encouraged the other nations, 
particularly France, to acquire colonies 
since it would leave him a freer hand 


179 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


in Europe, and involve them in inter- 
national conflicts. 

Yet in 1884-86 Bismarck acquired the 
larger portion of Germany’s colonial 
Empire.' This was due to the changed 
internal and external situation of 
Germany. Elections for the Reichstag 
were impending. There was much hostile 
criticism of Bismarck’s social and eco- 
nomic policies. The German people had 
begun “to think imperially” and were 
now demanding a place in the sun. 
Germany’s trade had greatly expanded. 
There was a rapid increase in population. 
The extraordinary energy of the German 
people was now seeking an outlet. The 
old arguments on the need for raw 
materials and markets were being conti- 
nuously advanced. German colonial 
enthusiasts could now also point to the 

I. On the acquisition of colonies the following books 
give useful information ; Townsend, Origins of Modern 
German Colonization • Langer, European Alliances and 
Alignments ; Brandenburg, From Bismarck to the World 
War ; von Hagen, Bismarcks Kolonialpolitik, 


180 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


renewed and vigorous activity of other 
nations in this sphere. Great Britain 
was active in Egypt, East and West 
Africa. The French had seized Tunis 
in 1881. Even the Italians were busy in 
founding colonies on the Western shores 
of the Red Sea. Germany had either to 
act promptly or be satisfied with the status 
of a second-rate power. Two societies, 
Kolonialverein and Gesellschaft fiir deut- 
sche Kolonisation, came into existence. 

The Kolonialverein was founded in 
1882. Among its founders were explorers, 
merchants, geographers and travellers. 
It was a very powerful organization, and 
within a couple of years it had ten 
thousand members, many of whom were 
influential men, such as Fabri, Hiibbe- 
Schleiden, Prince Hohenlohe-Langenburg 
and others. The society carried on an 
intense propaganda in favour of im- 
perialism. 

The Gesellschaft fiir deutsche Koloni- 
sation was founded by Carl Peters in 


181 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


1884. It was not merely an agency of 
propaganda ; its aim was to raise capital 
for the establishment of colonies. Carl 
Peters actually raised four million marks 
capital and left Germany for East Africa 
where he proposed to buy land for 
German emigrants. r 

The Societies were amalgamated in 
the deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (1887). 
These societies converted the country to 
imperialism. The press was on their 
side. Not only for economic reasons, 
but for reasons of national prestige it 
was considered essential that the country 
should possess a first-class colonial 
Empire. 

In 1884, the international situation 
seemed to be favourable for a colonial 
adventure. Germany and Austria- 
Hungary had concluded an alliance in 
1879 which three years later (1882) deve- 
loped into the well-known Triple Alliance 
when Italy joined the Teutonic Powers. 
Germany’s possible opponents had not 


182 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


yet come to an understanding among 
themselves. The Triple Entente of 
France, Russia and Great Britain was 
still a long way oft. Indeed Bismarck 
hoped to prevent an understanding 
between France and Great Britain by 
raising th§ colonial question. 

In April 1884 Bismarck placed the 
settlement of a German merchant, 
named Ltideritz, in South-West Africa 
under the protection of the Government. 
What happened was this. Difficulties 
had arisen about traders and missionaries 
who had settled themselves in Damara- 
land and Namaqualand in South-West 
Africa. They demanded British pro- 
tection when they found themselves 
in conflict with the indigenous population. 
But the British Government, which had 
annexed Walfish Bay, was not prepared 
to extend its authority any farther 
in that region. At last, in 1883, a German 
merchant, named Liideritz, asked his 
Government whether they would support 


183 



THE QTJEST FOE EMPIEB 


him if he hoisted the German flag at 
Angra Pequena, which subsequently 
came to be known as Liideritzbucht. 
Thereupon Bismarck inquired of the 
British Government whether it claimed 
this territory. The British Government, 
after a long time, informed Germany 
that although it did not claim 
sovereignty over the territory in question, 
it would consider such a claim by any 
other state as an infringement of its 
^‘legitimate rights”. Bismarck then 
asked it to prove the existence of 
its rights, to which the British Govern- 
ment did not reply. Bismarck after 
waiting for four months proclaimed a pro- 
tectorate over the whole coast between 
the Orange River and Angra Pequena, 
which was, after some controversy, 
recognized by Great Britain. The pro- 
tectorate developed into the important 
colony of German South-West Africa. 

This was how the German colonial 
Empire began. Within a short period 


184 



THE EXPANSION OP GERMANY 


of six years Germany could claim a fairly 
large empire in Africa and the Pacific. 
After the fall of Bismarck in 1890 , though 
much was heard about the Weltpolilik 
of Kaiser Wilhelm II and German 
colonial ambitions, actually few new 
acquisitiorj^ were made. 

As Bismarck had feared, the establish- 
ment of the German Colonial Empire 
necessitated the creation of a powerful 
navy, which in its turn led to Anglo- 
German estrangement. Great Britain 
would not have participated in the World 
War but for the colonial ambitions and 
naval power of Germany. 

Ultimately the German colonies had 
an area of about a million square miles 
with a population of about fifteen million. 
In Africa there were three principal 
possessions — German West Africa consis- 
ting of the Camaroons and Togoland, 
South-West Africa and last though not 
least German East Africa. In the Pacific 
Germany had Shantung and a large 


185 . 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 


number of smaller islands. German 
colonies used to supply, though not in 
large quantities, certain valuable products 
to the mother country — cotton, rubber, 
coffee and tobacco, for example. 

We give below a list of the more 
important products of the German 
colonies : 

German East Africa : Sisal — ^fibrous 
plant, maize, tea, tobacco, coffee and 
gold. 

South West Africa : Diamonds, cop- 
permate, some gold, tin and vanadium 
concentrates, tungsten. 

Camaroon : Palm oil, hides, cocoa, 
ivory, almonds, some gold, 

Togoland : Cocoa. 

It must, however, be borne in mind 
that those colonies, at the time when 
they were lost, could not be considered 
as either important markets for Germany’s 
goods or as sources of her imports. For 
before the War, in 1912 and 1913 they 
took only 0.6 per cent of Germany’s 


186 



THE EXPANSION OP GEBMANY 


total exports and they provided only 
0.5 per cent of all Q-ermany’s importa 
in each of these years'. 

The colonies did not serve as useful 
outlets for Germany’s surplus population 
either. It has been estimated that on 
January 1^ 1913, there were only about 
20,000 Germans in all the German 
colonies taken together, whereas in the 
period 1904-13 Germany’s annual average 
increase of population was 733,600 
persons, and the annual number of 
German emigrants 26,624’. Curiously 
the number of Germans in all the German 
colonies was smaller than the number 
of Germans in the city of Paris*. This 
was because most of the colonies had 
very unhealthy climates. The only 
possible exception was Tanganyika and 
even this territory never attracted a 
large number of German emigrants. 

1. The Economist^ April i8, 1936, p. 120. 

2. Ibid, p. 1 19. 

3. The Economist^ November i6, 1935, p. 950. 


187 



the quest fob EMPIEE 


The administration of the colonies 
was a considerable burden on the German 
tax-payer. The combined expenditure 
on the colonies in 1912 apart from the 
huge expenditure on the navy which was 
directly connected with colonial posses- 
sions, was £4,323,000 as compared with 
the total revenue of £2,448,000'. 

On the administration of these 
oolonies much was written during and 
immediately after the World War. The 
contention of the Allies was that 
Germany had miserably failed as a 
trustee of the inhabitants of the colonies. 
She misgoverned those territories and 
had no right to retain them. The 
Germans of course strongly repudiated 
these accusations. Books written before 
the World War or long after the 
War are better guides for students of 
history than those works of a controver- 
sial nature. Old works, as well as recent 
books show that there was nothing 

I. The Economist, November i6, I935> P- 9S*' 


188 




THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


exceptionally wrong with the administra- 
tion of the German colonies, specially 
after 1906 when a regular Colonial Office 
was established in Berlin which was- 
placed in the hands of Dr. Dernberg. 

In the early stages of German 
colonization, however, there are to be 
found many abuses. Serious mistakes 
were made first by the Chartered 
Companies, which were responsible for 
the government of the colonies while 
Bismarck was Chancellor, and then by 
the German Government itself which 
took control of colonial government after 
the dismissal of Bismarck. 

In South-West Africa, as well as in 
other German colonial possessions, the 
Germans in the beginning adopted an 
impolitic policy which resulted in a 
number of rebellions. The most serious 
of these rebellions was that of the 
Hereros. The war that ensued was long 
and was fought on both sides with 
unusual ferocity. General von Trotha 


189 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


resorted to exceptionally cruel methods. 
But it must be said to the credit of the 
German Government that it did not 
support him and he was obliged to 
resign'. 

The Herero campaign and the adven- 

c 

tures of Carl Peters, the enthusiastic 
pioneer of imperialism in Germany, were 
cited during the World War as proof of 
the brutality of German colonial policy. 
But it was unfair to suppose that such 
abuses were peculiar to German imperi- 
alism. A study of the colonial history of 
any of the European nations would 
demonstrate that the colonial policy of 
Germany was not very different from 
that of other countries. 

As regards the contention of the 
Allies that the moral and material 
progress of their colonies had been 
neglected by the German Government, it 
should be enough to point out that a 
period of thirty years is too short for the 

I. Townsend. Origins of Modern German Colonization. 

190 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


development of primitive countries.' 
Still the achievement of Germany was 
not negligible, and its value was recog- 
nized by competent authorities. Sir H. 
H. Johnston, for instance, wrote in 1913 : 
“They (the Germans) are quick to realize 
their own ‘defects and equally quick to 
amend them. As in commerce, so in 
government, they observe, learn and 
master the best principles. The politi- 
cian would be very short-sighted who 
underrated the greatness of the German 
character, or reckoned on the evanes- 
cence of German dominion in strange 
lands’”. Still on the false assumption of 
Germany’s inability to govern the colo- 
nies properly, she was ousted from the 
colonial field by the Treaty of Ver- 
sailles. 

By articles 118 and 119 of this treaty, 
Germany renounced all her rights over 

1. Townsend, Rise and Fall of Germany's Colonial 
Empire. 

2, History of the Colonization of Africa. 


191 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIBE 


the colonies and overseas possessions in 
favour of the principal Allied and Associ- 
ated Powers, They were assigned to Great 
Britain, including some of her Dominions, 
France, Belgium and Japan. But it was 
said that they were to be governed 
according to a new and worthy doctrine. 
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League 
of Nations laid down that “to those 

colonies and territories which are 

inhabited by peoples not yet able to 
stand by themselves under the strenuous 
conditions of the modern world, there 
should be applied the principle that the 
well-being and development of such 
peoples form a sacred trust of civili- 
zation.” For this reason, “the tutelage 
of such peoples should be entrusted to 
advanced nations.” The tutelage was 
to be exercised by them as mandatories 
of the League of Nations. 

German South-West Africa was 
assigned by the Treaty to the Union of 
South Africa. German East Africa went 


192 








THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


to Great Britain and Belgium, Great 
Britain getting the larger share. West 
Africa was divided between Great Britain 
and Prance. The general result of 
the Partition of Africa was that of 
12i million people under Germany, 
42 per cent went over to the British 
Empire, 33 per cent to Prance and 
26 per cent to Belgium. In the 
Pacific the islands lying in the North 
of the equator were handed over to 
Japan, those to the South of the equator, 
to the British Empire or its Dominions. 
Of these territories German East Africa 
and German West Africa belong to B 
class Mandates, which means that they 
retain their separate political existence, 
and are not to become integral parts of 
the territories of the Mandatory Powers. 
All the other former German possessions 
belong to C class Mandates, i. e. they are 
to be administered under the laws of the 
Mandatory Power as integral portions of 
its territory. 


13 


193 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


This was, in short, on what President 
Wilson had insisted in his Fourteen 
Points, “a free, open-minded and abso- 
lutely impartial adjustment of all colonial 
claims.” 

After the conclusion of the Treaty of 
Versailles, there was resentment in 
Germany at its exclusion from the 
colonial field. In spite of the re- 
publican character of the new regime 
and the progress of Socialism in Germany 
during this period, there were people who 
strove to secure for Germany a colonial 
system which might replace the one 
that was lost by the war. A small 
but ardent movement was maintained. 
Appeals were made to National egotism : 
^‘Germany needed room to expand. 
Germany must be large like the other 
Powers.” When the Germans saw that 
every nation of any pretension, even 
Belgium, Holland and Portugal possessed 
extensive empires, they regarded the 
loss of their colonies as a deep and open 


194 



THE EXPANSION OP GERMANY 


wound to their national pride. German 
pride was further wounded by the 
declaration of the Allies that Germany 
was unfit to govern backward peoples. 

The number of Germans who continued 
to press for the return of the Colonies 
was small ,• but they were all very active. 
Dr. Schacht and Dr. Schenee' were 
conspicuous in this agitation. The 
Koloniale Gesellschaft established a large 
number of branches to spread the 
propaganda. Two magazines — Kolonial 
Rundschau and Kolonialdeutsche — devoted 
themselves exclusively to colonial 
problems. Hundreds of pamphlets were 
published lest German interest in coloni- 
zation should die. Conservative news- 
papers consistently supported the move- 
ment. The German Government, too, 
on several occasions indirectly put 
forward Germany’s claim to a share in 


I. Dr. Heinrich Schnee wrote a book on the subject 
which has been translated into English, German Colonization 
Past and Future (London 19^6). 


195 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


the colonial world. When, for instance, 
Stresemann first applied for the member- 
ship of the League of Nations, he put 
forward as one of the four conditions the 
recognition by the League of the right of 
Germany to participate in the mandatory 
system and on May 20, 1927, Germany 
made a move to secure a seat on the 
Mandates Commission. 

Germany remained watchful of the 
status of her mandated colonies. When 
Belgium incorporated Ruanda-Urundi 
into the Belgian Congo, Germany pro- 
tested. British desire to incorporate 
German East Africa into her African 
possessions met with German opposition, 
and German newspapers on many 
occasions remarked caustically on the 
British tendency to speak of mandates 
as British colonies. 

While these demands were being 
made by the nationalist parties and 
moderate governments, the parties of the 
extreme Left remained critical of 


196 



THE EXPANSION OP GERMANY 


imperialism in any form. The Commu- 
nists and Socialists were committed to 
an anti-imperialist policy. They did not 
wish to have any more colonial empires. 
Curiously, they were supported in this 
policy by the National Socialists, though 
for very different reasons. 

Hitler, like Bismarck for so many 
years, was a confirmed opponent of 
German colonial expansion. In his 
autobiography he pleads for territorial 
acquisitions in Europe as against what 
he calls a policy of “colonial trade.” He 
recognizes the necessity of expansion. 
But he says that “the sole hope of success 
for a territorial policy now-a-days is to 
confine it to Europe, and not to extend it 
to places such as the Cameroons.” And 
again, “We have finished with the pre- 
War policy of colonies and trade, and are 
going over to the land policy of the 
future.” He strongly criticizes the pre- War 
colonial policy of Kaiser Wilhelm II. It 
was folly,” he says, “to use up our national 


197 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


strength for such objects without first 
ensuring our position in Europe. An 
aspiration of that sort is one of those 
stupidities which in politics go by the 
name of crimes.” The present large colo- 
nial empires do not appeal to him, as they 
did not appeal to Frederick the Great 
and Bismarck. “Many European states 
to-day,’' he asserts, “are like pyramids 
standing on their points. Their posses- 
sions in Europe are ridiculous compared 
with their top-heavy burden of colonies, 
foreign trade etc. One might say : point 
in Europe, base all over the world.” He 
compares these Empires with the 
American Union, “whose base covers its 
own continent and whose apex is its point 
of contact with the rest of the Globe. 
Hence the vast internal strength of that 
State and the weakness of most European 
colonizing Powers.” The Germans require 
territory for settlement, and colonies are 
“useless for that object.” This territory 
should be such as will “not only keep the 


198 



THE EXPANSION OF OEKMANT 


new settlers in close communication with 
the land of their origin but will guarantee 
to the combination all the advantages 
arising from the size of the united whole.*'^ 
He seemed to be intei’ested only in the 
creation of a G-erman land Empire. 

In official National Socialist ideology 
there was no room for colonies. The 
establishment of a racial state was the 
ideal. It was asserted by a Nazi 
Sociologist that whereas Italian Fascism 
stood for the imperialist idea National 
Socialism believed in what he called the 
“federal'’ theory, meaning thereby the 
consolidation of the German peoples now 
scattered in so many countries of Europe'. 
Hitler, like Bismarck, thought that the 
creation of a colonial Empire would 
antagonize Britain. But friendship with 
Britain was to be one of the basic ideas of 
his foreign policy. How could he build 
up a colonial Empire and at the same time 
retain the goodwill of Britain ? How 


I. W. Eschmann in Hochschule und Ausland, April 1934. 

199 



THE QUEST FOR EJIPIEE 


could he fight Russia — a war with which 
he considered inevitable — unless he was 
assured at least of British neutrality, if 
not of assistance ? 

What is this Nazi “Federal” Plan, 
and what is the nature of Germany’s 
policy of expansion on the Continent ? 
All the Germans must be brought under 
the German flag. Economic need and 
national honour make expansion unavoid- 
able. Alfred Rosenberg, the party expert 
on foreign afiaiis writes : “Racial honour 

demands territory and enough of it 

In such a struggle there can be no 
consideration for worthless Poles, Czechs, 
etc. Ground must be cleared for German 
peasants.” 

Clemenceau once said : “There are 
twenty million too many Germans in the 
world.” Hitler’s dream is the unification 
of all Germans. The establishment of a 
unified racial state is the fundamental 
aim of the Nazis. All the Germans must 
be brought within the Nordic Third 

200 



TIIE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


Reich. It has been estimated that 
there are over 85 million Germans in 
Europe, out of which GB million live 
in the German Reich.' Twenty million 
Germans are, at present, the subjects or 
citizens (as the case may be) of twenty 
foreign states. They are distributed as 
follows : — 

Austria — 6,300,000 ; Czechoslovakia — 
3,500,000; Switzerland — 2,860,000; France 
— 1,700,000 -, Poland — 1,350,000 •, Russia 
— 1,000,000; Rumania — 800,000; Jugo- 
slavia — 700,000 ; Hungary — 600,000 ; 

Danzig — 360,000; Italy — .300,000; Luxem- 
burg — 260,000 ; Belgium — 150,000 ; 

Lithuania — 131,000 ; Holland — 80,000 ; 
Latvia — 75,000 ; Denmark — 60,000 ; Es- 
thonia — 30,000 ; Lichtenstein — 12,000. 

Obviously Nazi Germany cannot fight 
all these twenty states of which three are 
Great Powers. She has to difierentiate 
between the important and the less 
important of her objectives. 

I. Sprachenkarte von Hittel-Europa. 

201 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


The Nazis consider the situation to be 
particularly unsatisfactory in Austria, 
Czechoslovakia, Poland, Danzig, Lithua- 
nia and above all Russia. With regard 
to other countries, Grermany has either 
reconciled herself with the situation, or 
does not consider it to be 'sufficiently 
important. In short, Germany is to adopt 
the old policy of ^ Drang nach Osten.' 

Of the states affected by the World 
War none suffered so severely as the 
Austro-Hungarian Empire. This empire, 
which, for a century, had occupied a 
unique place in European polity, was 
literally wiped out. The composite 
Empire was dissolved into a number of 
small nation-states. As a result of the 
dissolution, Austria has been reduced to 
a State of 6^ million people, of whom 
over two million live in Vienna, the 
capital. She has now become a land- 
locked state, having no territorial access 
to the sea. Living in Austria is expensive 
and means of employment few. At 


202 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


present Austria presents to Europe a 
very difficult problem indeed. It is now 
surrounded on all sides by hostile States. 
These States, formerly possessions of 
the Dual Monarchy, have adopted a 
policy of economic protection with a 
vengeance.* Austria is deprived of her 
natural sources of supply and of markets 
for her finished goods. Her economic 
condition, as a consequence, has been 
deplorable and has been a cause of 
uneasiness not only to herself but to 
other countries. Have not the economists 
traced the origin of the British monetary 
crisis of 1931 to the failure of the Credit- 
Anstalt ? 

The economic distress has produced 
a social condition in Austria that is 
extremely serious. Suicides are more 
numerous than in any other Western 
country. The number of beggars is on 
the increase. Vienna, the great cultural 
centre in Europe, next only to Paris, is 
a decaying town. I wonder who said 


203 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


it first that Germany's condition was 
serious but not hopeless, Austria’s 
hopeless but not serious [ There seems 
to be little hope of any improvement 
in the condition of Austria unless 
drastic remedies are applied. 

Three solutions of the difficult 
Austrian problem have been suggested. 
Austria may continue to live only if she 
either joins one of her powerful neigh- 
bours, Germany and Italy, in an eco- 
nomic if not political union or she joins 
a federation of the Succession States. 
These are the three proposed solutions of 
the Austrian problem. Every one of 
them is favoured by one of the Great 
Powers. Germany is anxious that 
Austria should join her. Italy wishes 
that she should remain subservient to 
her and in any case should not become 
e, part of Greater Germany. Prance 
would wish her to become a member of 
some loose federation of the Succession 
States. 


204 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


Of all these solutions the one that 
seems to be natural is an Austro-German 
Union, the so called Anschluss. But this 
has been prohibited by the Treaty of 
Versailles (Art. 80) and the Treaty of 
St. Germain (Art. 88). That this Union 
can be pefmanently avoided is highly 
improbable. All Germans agree that the 
Union must be accomplished. Even 
before the coming of Hitler, an attempt 
was made by the German Government 
to establish a Customs Union (1931)'. 
But, due to the opposition of France 
and Italy, the plan had to be abandoned. 

Curiously enough, when Hitler, an 
Austrian by birth and a fervent advocate 
of the Anschluss., became supreme, the 
movement for a Union of the two 
Gemanic peoples received a set-back. 
The Austrians did not like to join Nazi 
Germany, where Socialism had been 
tabooed and Catholicism was being 

I. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs{ig'^i)iot 
the projected union. 


205 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


persecuted. The Austrian Government, 
first under Dollfuss, then under Schusch- 
nigg, adopted a pro-Italian policy. 
Austrian Nazis were ruthlessly perse- 
cuted. 

Recently, however, a change has come 
in the attitude of Austria. Von Papen, 
it seems, has succeeded in bringing about 
a rapprochement between the two 
Oerman-speaking nations (1936). This 
means an increase of German influence 
in Austria. Although the agreement was 
concluded with the knowledge and 
consent of Mussolini, it is clear that 
Italy now has begun to realise that her 
hold on Austria is slipping. The only 
effective way of upsetting the schemes of 
Hitler is the restoration of the Habsburg 
monarchy. 

Unless the restoration takes place, it 
seems unlikely that a Union between 
Germany and Austria will be obstructed, 
indefinitely. Had the desire for a union 
been based on sentiment alone, perhaps 


206 



THE EXPANSION OF GEEMANY 


it would not come. Or, if interest alone 
required a union, it need not be neces- 
sarily accomplished. But in this case both 
sentiment and interest demand a union. 
It will be difficult for Italy and other 
countries to prevent it for a long time. 

Nazi Germany has an eye upon yet 
another country. The Third Reich is 
hungrily looking at the rich territories of 
Western Czechoslovakia. In a total 
population ot less than 16 millions there 
are about 8 million Germans in Czechoslo- 
vakia, by far the largest German minority 
in any country. The Germans live in the 
most highly industrialized districts of 
Czechoslovakia. They are well-organized. 
The Suddeutsche Heimatfront under the 
leadership of Henlein is a force to reckon 
with. Specially during the last two years, 
it has made considerable progress, and 
since May 1936 forms the second largest 
party (44 seats to the 45 of the Czech 
Agrarian Party) in the legislature. The 
party is openly carrying on propaganda 


207 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


for the autonomy of their province but 
secretly it is closely connected with the 
Nazi party in Germany, and desires 
incorporation in the Reich. The rise 
of this movement is due to the anta- 
gonism between the Germans and the 
Czechs and Slovaks. The Germans 
find it difficult to reconcile themselves 
with the privileged position of the 
Czechs in the government of the 
Country. Nazi propaganda — through 
newspapers and radio — is a powerful 
factor in organizing opposition to the 
Czechoslovak Government. In the trial 
of the Prager Presse^ which took place in 
September 1936, it was established that 
Henlein had received large sums of 
money for his party from German sources, 
and that the movement of which he was 
the leader was a direct offspring of 
German Nazism.' 

Czechoslovakia is naturally perturbed 
over Nazi intentions. She is worried 

I. Hanighen in Current History, March 1936. 


208 





Contra) and Eastern Europe 





THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 

about German fortifications on her 
frontier. She will do all that lies in her 
power to prevent an Austro-German 
Union, She is now a dependable ally 
of France and Russia. 

Although Herr Hitler concluded with 
Poland a. Non-aggression Pact shortly 
after the Nazi regime was established, 
the causes of her discontent have not 
been removed and they are capable of 
precipitating a crisis at any moment. 

The reconstitution of Poland at the 
Peace Conference of Paris involved the 
disintegration of Prussia. The new 
Poland includes practically all that was 
taken by her unscrupulous neighbours in 
the eighteenth century and more. Posen, 
West Prussia, Galicia have been added 
to her territory. According to the Treaty 
of Versailles the fate of East Prussia and 
Upper Silesia was to be decided by 
plebiscite. East Prussia voted for Poland 
and, therefore, was assigned to her. But 
although Upper Silesia voted for 

209 

14 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIBE 


Germany, the whole of it could not be 
retained by her. The result of the 
plebiscite was that 62.3 per cent of the 
electorate voted in favour of Germany 
and 37.7 per cent in favour of Poland. 
In spite of this verdict, however, Upper 
Silesia was divided into two halves, and 
out of two million people about one 
million were handed over to Poland. 
Konigshiitte and Kattowitz, two impor- 
tant industrial centres, where 80 per cent 
of the population had voted in favour 
of Germany, were transferred to Poland. 
Of sixty anthracite coal mines of Upper 
Silesia Germany lost as many as fifty. 
But what is very much resented by the 
Germans is the creation of Danzig and 
the district around it as a ‘free city’ under 
the guarantee of the League of Nations. 
This was in order to give Poland an access 
to the sea. Danzig is purely German. 
This corridor has separated a part of 
Eastern Prussia from the west of 
Germany. Naturally it has been the 


210 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


cause of much trouble between the two 
nations. 

The freedom of Danzig is a myth. 
Poland is permitted to include this area 
within the Polish Customs frontier. 
Poland is to enjoy the use of all the 
water-wayl^ and docks of the city. She 
must be given all port facilities. Her 
control over the railway system is 
complete. She also controls the postal 
and telegraphic communications with 
Danzig. In the sphere of foreign rela- 
tions, Poland represents Danzig. Danzig 
is not so free after all as the name 
suggests. 

Neither Danzig nor Germany can be 
happy over this arrangement. In the 
circumstances, a certain amount of 
friction between the local authorities on 
the one hand and Poland and the League 
on the other was perhaps inevitable. 
The forced separation of the German 
people of Danzig from the Reich made 
them ultra-nationalist. They have now 


211 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


all become Nazi, and are demanding 
their return to the Fatherland. Since 
Hitler came to power — in spite of the 
Non-aggression Pact — Danzig has been 
a great danger spot in Europe. Nazi 
Germany may not like to have a major 
war at the present time, but the (absorp- 
tion of Danzig, made less difficult by the 
eslablishment of a Nazi Government in 
the Free City, should not be considered 
as a very remote possibility. 

Even more serious is the situation in 
the “autonomous territory” of Memel. 
This German territory which was not 
finally disposed ofl by the Peace con- 
ference and remained under the Allies 
for three years was taken by force by 
the Lithuanian army in 1923.* It was a 
farce, no doubt. Imagine little Lithuania 
defying the combined strength of the 
Allied and Associated Powers. After 
some time Lithuania’s title to the 
territory was recognized by the Con- 

I. Toynbee, Svrvey of Initmalumal Affain (i920-j j). 

212 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


ference of Ambassadors (May 1924). 
This convention between the principal 
Allied Powers — Great Britain, France, 
Italy and Japan — provided that the 
Memel territory should ‘constitute, under 
the sovereignty of Lithuania, a unit 
enjoying l^islative, judicial, administra- 
tive and financial autonomy’ within 
certain limits which were prescribed in a 
statute annexed to the Convention. 

The application of the Memel Conven- 
tion has given rise to numerous difficulties 
and disputes between Lithuania and 
Memel. According to the terms of the 
Convention, the Governor of the Memel 
territory is appointed by the Lithuanian 
Government, and he, in his turn, appoints 
the President of the Directorate. The 
result is dead-lock and constant friction 
between the Landtag, almost wholly 
German in composition, and the 
Directorate. Lithuania under the impulse 
of nationalism has consistently tried to 
make her authority felt in Memel. The 


213 



THE QXJEST FOB EMPIEB 


people and the legislature of Mem el have 
equally consistently tried to oppose it. 
The people of Memel have been 
encouraged and supported by all the 
German Governments in their opposition 
to Lithuania. It was only natural that 
the Nazi regime should be even more 
sympathetic towards them than the 
moderate governments of Germany had 
been. Nazi Germany cannot forgive 
Lithuania for seizing Memel by force. 
The high-handed action, even if recog- 
nized and confirmed by the Principal 
Allied Powers, is considered by the Nazis 
as one of the gravest wrongs which must 
be undone. It is very significant that 
when Hitler ofiers peace to Europe he 
excludes from the ofier, in addition to 
Russia, the state called Lithuania. 

And now let us turn towards Russia, 
beginning with a short sketch of post- 
war Russo-German relations. 

Shortly after the close of the World 
War and the conclusion of the Treaty 


214 



THE EXPAN8I0K OF GERMANY 


of Versailles, we find in Germany a 
powerful group of men which stood for an 
aggressive policy of retaliation in foreign 
affairs. They generally belonged to tho 
parties of the Right. But although they 
stood for an aggressive foreign policy, 
they knew that disarmed Germany was 
no match even for a Poland or a Czecho- 
slovakia, not to speak of France, the 
powerful western neighbour. The then 
Government of Germany, composed of 
the Socialists and the Middle parties, 
was opposed to an aggressive foreign 
policy, but was favourably inclined 
towards Russia. 

The U. S. S. R. on her side was not 
only eager to propagate the doctrine 
of Communism, she was also in search 
of allies- in order to combat the 
formidable coalition of her opponents. 
Moreover, she required the help of a 
highly industrialized nation for her own 
industrial development. In Germany she 
found an ideal comrade. Each country 


216 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


required the help of the other. The 
Treaty of Rapallo was concluded between 
Russia and Germany in 1922. Included 
in its provisions were a mutual renuncia- 
tion of reparations, renunciation by 
Germany of compensation for losses 
incurred by the Germans in Russia as a 
result of confiscation of private property, 
resumption of diplomatic relations, and 
mutual application of the ‘most favoured 
nation’ principle, etc. 

On this treaty were based the subse- 
quent friendly relations between the two 
countries. In 1924, however, the leaders 
of certain important German parties, 
such as the Socialist, the Democratic, 
the People’s and the Centre Parties, came 
to recognize that a reorientation of 
German foreign policy was necessary. 

For this change of view, Stresemann, 
who became Foreign Minister in 1924, 
was no doubt largely responsible. He 
recognized that an aggressive foreign 
policy was impossible, and all talk of 


216 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


retaliation was meaningless. Russia was 
not in a position to ofier any real help in 
the event of an international conflict. 
Communist uprisings in Bavaria and the 
Ruhr constituted another reason for his 
deprecation of too close a friendship with 
Revolution^i-ry Russia. Besides, this 
friendship had not brought Germany any 
very substantial financial gains, which 
was contrary to what had been expected. 
Stresemann, therefore, struck a new note 
in German foreign policy. He now 
adopted a conciliatory attitude towards 
the ex-enemies, particularly towards 
France. The fruits of his endeavours 
were the conclusion of the Locarno 
Pact in 1926 and Germany’s entry into 
the League of Nations in 1926. 

Germany had now decided in favour 
of conciliation with the Western Powers, 
but at the same time she could not afford 
to antagonize Russia. Because of Russian 
friendship, Germany was in a position to 
insist on and carry through some of her 


217 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIKE 


demands rns-a-vis the Western Powers. 
She could exploit Russian friendship 
and threaten the Powers with the 
reversal of her foreign policy. In short, 
Germany was trying to be on good terms 
with the Western Powers on the one 
hand and with Soviet Russia on the 
other. But it was not an easy task. 

Soviet eyes saw in this dual policy of 
Germany a distinct sign of her drift from 
Russia. By the end of 1924 Russia had 
recognized the futility of her efforts 
to create a communist revolution in 
Germany. The Locarno Pact and the 
entry of Germany into the League made 
the relations beween the two countries 
very cool indeed. But a complete break 
was not regarded as desirable by either 
of the parties. Russia still favoured a 
revision of the Treaty of Versailles, 
though not with earlier enthusiasm. 
Germany refused to dance to the Soviet 
tune, but at the same time she carefully 
avoided being drawn into any hostile 


218 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


combination against Russia. Such rela- 
tions continued until the beginning of 
1933 when Hitler became all-powerful in 
Germany. 

War with Russia is one of the most 
fundamental items in Hitler’s programme. 
Repeatedly in his autobiography he 
mentions Russia as the inevitable foe. 
He calls her the “bestial” and “blood- 
stained” enemy. He takes Wilhelm II 
to task for the pre-War German policy. 
Germany ought to have allied herself with 
Great Britain in order to fight Russia. 
“We national Socialists,” he says, “have 
deliberately drawn a line under the pre- 
War tendency of our foreign policy. We 
are where they were six hundred years 
ago. We stem the Germanic stream 
towards the South and West of Europe 

and turn our eyes eastwards Fate 

itself seems to wish to give us our 
direction. When fate abandoned Russia^ 
to Bolshevism it robbed the Russian 
people of the educated class which once 


219 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


created and guaranteed their existence 
as a State.” 

Not only Hitlers’ “federal” plan 
involves war with Russia, but he is 
looking covetously to the grain fields of 
Ukraine and the mineral resources of 
Siberia. “Germany”, he says, “is not in 
the position of the Bolshevik Jew who 
possesses a superfluity of land. If we 
possessed the Urals, Siberia and the 
wheat-fields of Ukraine, then Germany 
under National Socialist leadership would 
be swimming in plenty instead of having 
to fight for her existence.” 

Herr Hitler has publicly reaffirmed his 
policy towards Russia which he calls ‘our 
old enemy, the arch-enemy of humanity.” 
He seems to be prepared to subordinate 
all other aims of his to this aim — the 
crushing of Russia. He ofiered not long 
ago a peace pact even to France ; but 
with Russia there can be no peace. 

The pact of 1936 between Germany 
and Japan, in spite of assurance to the 


220 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


contrary, is clearly a move against Russia. 
Germany is organizing an anti-Russian 
bloc, of which Italy is also a member. 
Whether Italy can be depended upon 
under all circumstances is doubtful. But 
the alliance between Germany and Japan 
seems to be quite natural. It means that 
in case of War, Russia will have to fight 
on both the eastern and western fronts. 

It may take long before Germany’s 
Continental ambitions are fulfilled. But 
there can be no doubt that Germany’s 
influence in Central and Plastern Europe 
is increasing. For most of these countries 
Germany has already become the domi- 
nant European Power. Even the 
solidarity of the Little Entente seems 
to have broken down. Rumania and 
Jugoslavia are moving towards Germany 
and away from France. There are 
strong pro-Nazi elements in both these 
countries. The economic penetration of 
the countries of Eastern and Central 
Europe carried on by Dr. Schacht is but 


221 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


■a prelude to the extension of political 
influence. Drang nach Osten'"’ is not a 
dead formula. 

The Nazis, under the influence of 
Hitler, demanded the establishment of a 
land-Empire. They were in favour of 
expansion “towards the east”, and were 
indiflerent, if not actually hostile, to 
colonial expansion. Since the beginning 
of 1936, however, we find them demand- 
ing the return of German colonies. To 
^‘federalism’’ is now added “colonialism.” 

The Nazi interest in colonial afiairs 
is of recent origin. Before October 1936 
when a Colonial Exhibition was held at 
Hanover and when the Italian invasion 
•of Abyssinia began, there was hardly 
any talk about colonies in Nazi circles. 
While unveiling a memorial to Dr. Peters, 
•General von Epp referred to the invasion 
of Abyssinia by Italy as a hint to 
Germany. He urged that Germany was 
•entitled to receive back her colonies. 
■The book of Dr. Bauer, entitled 'Kolonien 


222 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


Oder nicht,’ published in 1935 with an 
introduction by Dr. Schacht, also seems 
to have influenced Herr Hitler.* 

The first public pronouncement of the 
Fiihrer on the question of colonies was 
made in January (1936) before the Nazi 
students in Munich.* He declared that 
colonies were aquired by right of might. 
Europe needed raw materials and 
colonies, and by the heroic conception 
of life the white race was destined to 
rule. 

Since then the German Minister for 
Propaganda is carrying on a regular 
campaign in the Press for the return of 
the colonies. The German Colonial 
Society has now renewed its activities. 
The climax of this movement for the 
restoration of the colonies was reached 
when, in September 1936, Herr Hitler, 
characterising the attitude of British 

1. Sir C. Alexander Harris in The Quarterly Review, 
October 1936. 

2. The StatesmaUf January 2Z, 1936. 


223 



THE QUEST POK EMPIRE 


statesmen towards German expansion, 
referred to the famous question of Marie 
Antoniette, “Why don’t they eat cake ?” 
when people said they had no bread. 

This change in the attitude of Hitler 
and the Nazis seems to be due to the 
unhappy economic situation of the 
country and the influence of Dr. Schacht 
and General von Epp, specially of the 
former. Dr. Schacht who belongs to the 
old German Conservative Party and who 
is in charge of National Economics is a 
firm believer in the usefulness of the 
colonies to a countrj’ so short of raw 
materials and foreign exchange as 
Germany. 

It was in 1926 that he said : “The 
fight for raw material plays the most 
important part in world politics, an even 

greater role than before the War 

Germany’s only solution is her acqui- 
sition of colonies.”' He has consistently 
held the view that the economic recovery 

I. Quoted by Moon, Imperialism and World Polities. 

224 




THE EXPANSION OP GERMANY 

of Germany is impossible without the 
restoration of colonies. Dr. Schacht is the 
man who is financing German re- 
armament. He has made himself indis- 
pensable to Hitler. He is in fact the only 
member of the Government, who has the 
courage t® criticize, even publicly, the 
conduct of the Nazi Party. General von 
Epp must also be considered as one 
of the influential men in Germany. 
He is the Governor of Bavaria and the 
life and soul of the German colonial 
association. 

The same old arguments — over-popu- 
lation, need for markets, shortage of raw 
materials and foodstuffs — are being put 
forward by Germans to-day. 

Germany is a thickly populated 
country, with 66 million people. The 
density of population in Germany is about 
the same as that in England ; but Eng- 
land, in the words of General Goering, 
has the whole world as a colony. Ger- 
many, on the other hand, is a ‘Volk ohne 

225 

15 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIRE 

Eaurn/' a ‘nation without space’ to 
live. 

But it is interesting to note that the 
people who complain that they are too 
many and that their country cannot 
support them are doing all that lies in 
their power to increase tliejr number. 
The Nazis have adopted a definite popu- 
lation policy. They have imitated the 
Fascists in this respect, with the difier- 
ence that they are even more thorough. 

There are two aspects of the Nazi 
population policy ; qualitative and quan- 
titative’. The object of the first is to 
prevent the birth of children of an 
“inferior” type. This has been done by the 
Law for Protection of the Hereditary Fit- 
ness of the German People, by the Law for 
Preventing the Eeproduction of Persons 
with Hereditary Diseases, and by the 
Law for maintaining the Purity of the 
German Blood. But perhaps more 

1. The name of a book. 

2. Alfred Mensel, National Socialism and the Family in 
the Sociological Review, April, 1936. 


226 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


important for the world is the quanti- 
tative aspect of Nazi population policy. 
First of all measures have been taken to 
stop the prevention of pre^rnancy and 
birth. Advertisement and sale of con- 
traceptives have been wholly prohibited. 
More sever® punishment is now assifijned 
for abortion. Apart fiom these ne<^ative 
measures, the Nazi State is encouraf^ing 
marriage and child-birth and is giving 
financial assistance to large families. 
Grants are made to young couples who 
want to marry. Subsidies are paid to 
persons with large families. Property 
and inheritance taxes in their case have 
been lowered and railway fares reduced. 
The world was amused to learn that Herr 
Goering had sent a congratulatory 
telegram to a woman in Prussia on the 
birth of a quadruplet. 

Yet, Dr. Schacht describes Germany’s 
lack of space as “a nightmare”,' and 

I. In a speech at the Geographical and Statistical 
Society at Frankfort on December 9, 1936. 


227 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 

Germany demands colonies because of 
over-population ! 

Germany must find new markets for 
her manufactured goods. During the 
last few years all the nations including 
Great Britain, that land of free trade, 
have adopted a policy of protection and 
“selfish exclusionism”.' They have 
raised high tarifi walls against imports. 
International trade, as a. consequence, has 
been considerably reduced. Germany is 
not the only country to sufier from this 
policy, but she has been a greater sufferer 
than those countries which are either 
large and self-sufficient or possess vast 
empires. 

Shortage of foodstuffs is given as 
another justification for the restoration 
of the German colonies. There is a 
general scarcity of food in Germany 
to-day. There is shortage of beef and 
butter in particular, which has compelled 
the German Government to introduce 

1. The Round Table, December 1936. 


228 



THE EXPANSION OF OEKMANY 


the system of rationing, ( December 
1936). The Nazis are tryim? to shift 
the blame to the mistaken af?ricultural 
policy of pre-Nazi Governments. It is 
perhaps even more due to the present 
Nazi policy. “Fundamentally, the food 
shortage s^eems to be the outward and 
visible sign of the employment for capital 
investment (including rearmament) of an 
unreasonably high proportion of the 
national income.”' To the Nazi policy of 
Self-sufficiency also must be assigned a 
part of the blame for the shortage of 
foodstuffs. It is difficult to justify the 
continuance of restrictions on imports 
despite the acute shortage of foodstuffs. 
For reasons of ‘self-sufficiency’ uneco- 
nomic agriculture is being encouraged. 

Anyhow the fact remains that Ger- 
many at the present time is oppressed by 
a serious food problem. Nazi leaders are 
fervently appealing to the German 
people to endure this hardship. “The 

I. The Economist, November 30, 1935. 


229 




THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


Fiihrer,’' said Goering, “does not butter 
his meat. What he can do, you can.” 
The German people, when confronted 
with the awkward question, ‘what would 
they prefer — butter or liberty natu- 
rally answer : ‘liberty’. Dr. Goebbels, 
the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, once 
informed his audience that butter and 
foodstufis were not as important as guns. 
“We can well do without butter,” he said, 
“but not without guns, because butter 
would not help us if we were to be 
attacked one day’’. 

In the propaganda for the restoration 
of the German colonies particular stress 
is laid on the shortage of raw materials. 
Many of the well known German leaders 
have pointed out in their speeches and 
writings that this problem must be solved 
to the satisfaction of Germany because 
“it was a necessary preliminary to the 
restoration of sound world economy.” 

Dr. Schacht, in a recent speech 
(December 1936) at the Geographical and 


230 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


Statistical Society, Frankfort, said that 
lack of raw materials was even greater 
than the lack of foodstuffs. Germany’s 
existence, he continued, could not be 
secured by commercial agreements, and 
her position would remain an element of 
revolutioi^ in the European situation 
unless remedied. 

“We want a share of the world's raw 
material sources, and we shall get them,” 
declared General Goering in a speech on 
the new Four Year Plan, (October 28, 
1936). About the same time, the German 
Minister of Finance, Count Schwerin von 
Krosigk, made a declaration in which 
he said : “We can never renounce the 
demand that the problem of the just 
distribution of raw materials should be 
dealt with and solved.” He said that 
therein lay the key to the colonial 
question. 

Nations which are in a happier 
position than Germany tell her that 
there is no need of possessing colonies 


231 



THE QUEST FOR EMPIRE 


for the sake of raw materials and 
foodstuffs. These things may be had in 
plenty, provided you pay for them.. But 
apart from considerations of war, 
Germany is short of foreign exchange. 
General Goering and Dr. Goebbels, in 
their speeches, have referred ^scathingly 
to the suggestion that Germany should 
buy raw materials. “We would”, said 
General Goering, “if they had not stolen 
our gold by reparations”. Perhaps the 
economists would not agree with the 
reason given by the General but they 
would at least recognize that Germany 
has no money. It may be that Germany’s 
own policy is responsible for the shortage 
of foreign exchange, but the fact remains 
that she has no money to buy raw mate- 
rials and foodstufis. Dr. Goebbels des- 
cribed as “an impudent argument” the 
statement that Germans could buy raw 
materials. “Did the English writer be- 
lieve,” he said, “that Germans were so 
stupid that they did not know that they 


232 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


could not buy raw materials without 
foreign exchange ? In due course they 
must buy raw materials, and if they had 
not got them at home they must be 
given a share in the world’s wealth.” 

This is why Glermany requires, in the 
words of ^General von Epp, “raw mate- 
rial producing colonial territory in which 
its own currency is in circulation”. 

Shortage of raw materials and food- 
stuffs has become so serious that after 
other methods of control had proved 
ineffective, Herr Hitler announced the 
famous Four Year Plan of raw material 
self-sufficiency at the Party-Congress at 
Nuremberg (1936). The execution of the 
Plan was placed in the hands of General 
Goering, the Prime Minister of Prussia 
and Reich Air Minister. 

In his decree Herr Hitler said that 
the realization of the Plan demands a 
united direction of all the forces of the 
nation and the co-ordination of all the 
competent authorities in party and state. 


233 



THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


General Goering has been given exten- 
sive power of issuing decrees and orders 
for the execution of the Plan. 

Apart from economic considerations, 
purely political and sentimental consi- 
derations play an important part in the 
present agitation in Germanj^ for the 
return of its colonies. The Aryan super- 
man resents the idea of his exclusion 
from the work of civilization in the 
backward countries of the world. The 
Nazis believe in their racial superiority, 
and in the right of the white race to rule 
over the world. It is the white man’s 
burden. It is his destiny. 

That Germany has been a militarist 
and therefore an imperialist country is 
well known. Her philosophers have 
eulogised war. Was it not Hegel who 
said that ‘The health of a state generally 
displays itself, not in the calm of peace, 
but in the movement of war”. Nietzsche 
exhorted his fellow-countrymen ‘to live 

1. Hegel, Der Staal, German Edition, 1924, p. t02. 

234 



THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


dangerously’, and exalted power for 
its own sake. Heinrich Treitschke, the 
Hohenzollern historian-philosopher, ex- 
ploited the idea of national sovereiirnty 
to combat the theory of international: 
law and world peace. 

Much has been written and said on 
Prussianism and its militarist character, 
and it need not be repeated. Nazism, 
too, is undoubtedly militant in temper. 
The present rulers of Germany not only 
glorify war, but are making unprecedented 
preparations for it. Throughout Hitler’s 
autobiography can be traced the central 
idea of war. “It must be thoroughly 
understood that the lost lands will never 
be won back by solemn appeals to the 
good God, nor by pious hopes in any 
League of Nations, but only by force of 
arms”. Thus Hitler in My Struggle. 
Ewald Banse, in his preface to 'Baum 
und Volk im Weltkriege', says without 
the least hesitation : “The Third Reich, 
as we dream of it — from the Flanders 


235 



THE QUEST FOE EMPIEE 


coast to the Eaab, from Memel to the 
Adige and the Rhone — can only be born 
in blood and iron”'. War is no longer 
conceived as a measure of self-defence ; 
in Nazi ideology it seems to be the end 
of statecraft itself. 

It has also been suggested that Hitler 
may be after all following in the footsteps 
of Bismarck. Perhaps Herr Hitler has 
raised the colonial question “to sap the 
moral strength of great Britain’s position, 
to sow discord between the colonial 
and the non-colonial Powers among 
Oermany’s neighbours, and to confuse 
and divide British public opinion,’” and, 
we may add, to distract the minds of 
the Q-erman people from domestic ills. 

These are the possible explanations 
■of Germany’s claim to “colonial equality 
of rights.’’ 

Is there any chance of Germany 
receiving back her colonies by peaceful 

1. An En)s»lish translation of the book is available 
•Germany Prepares for War, 19 ^ 4 . 

2. The Round Tables December 193^* 


236 




THE EXPANSION OF GERMANY 


means ? Will the League of Nations 
be prepared to transfer some of the 
mandated territories to Germany 7 And 
even if the League be so inclined, will 
the mandatory States tolerate it ? These 
questions are difficult to answer. 

So far as wo can judge from the 
present circumstances, it seems impossible 
that any of the mandatory Powers would 
willingly part with any portion of the 
territories assigned to it. Responsible 
British statesmen have already given 
Germany to understand that the question 
of handing over any colonies to Germany 
cannot arise under any circumstances, 
and the South Africa Minister of Defence 
has given a categorical reply to the 
German demands : “In no circumstances 
can South Africa or Great Britain 
envisage the return of either Tanganyika 
or South-West Africa to Germany.”' 

A return of the colonies by peaceful 
means does not seem to be possible. But 

I. Mr. Pirow in a statement on Aug. I2, 1936. 


237 




THE QUEST FOB EMPIRE 


it does not preclude the possibility of 
what the Round Table has called “non- 
territorial expansion”' of Germany in 
Africa, Germany may be permitted to 
share in some of the benefits which 
colonies confer, as Sir Samuel Hoare 
pointed out in his Geneva Speech of 
September 1935. Thereby the economic 
grievances of Germany will be largely 
removed. We are not very hopeful, 
however, that an agreement of this type 
will actually be concluded between the 
Haves and the Have-nots ; for imperialism, 
to be true to itself, must remain selfish. 
And even if the agreement does come 
into existence, there is no guarantee that 
the Have-nots will finally give up their 
demand for territorial expansion. Impe- 
rialism is seldom satisfied. 


I, The Round Table, Oecember 19^6. 


238 


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APPENDIX II 

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